ENAIRE, Spain's air navigation service provider and an agency of MITMA (Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda), took part in a workshop on the Strategic Plan for the Economic Recovery and Transformation (PERTE) and the Aerospace Sector, as part of the Spanish government's Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan (PRTR).

The Conference was organised in Madrid by the aeronautical magazine Fly News, in collaboration with Indra, KPMG, Siemens and ENAIRE. ENAIRE described how it contributes, through MITMA, to component 6 of the PRTR with the project "Actions for the Development of the Single European Sky".

The direct investments of this Project are part of the Aerospace PERTE, which, through its strategic and wide-ranging nature, incorporates different actions aimed at positioning the aerospace sector as a key player in anticipation of the major transformations expected in the sector both nationally and abroad.

The event was attended by Ángel Luis Arias, from ENAIRE; Begoña Cristeto, from KPMG; J. Ramón Castro, from Siemens; Domingo Castro, from Indra; Miguel Belló, PERTE Commissioner; Miguel Cavero, Tikehau Ace Capital, and Andrés Catalán, from Plataforma Aeroespacial.

Boost to the sector in Spain and Europe

In his speech at the conference, ENAIRE's CEO, Ángel Luis Arias, noted that "the Aerospace PERTE will provide an important boost to the sector in Spain and Europe-wide". Regarding the Single European Sky, Arias said that "it is consistent with the goal of borderless air travel".

The CEO also remarked how important the STARTICAL project is to the Spanish brand. In his opinion, "it will be the beginning of a new concept in air traffic management, and will have a pull effect on the aerospace industry in Spain".

STARTICAL was created by Spain's national air navigation service provider, ENAIRE, and the global technology and consultancy company Indra, the goal being to deploy a constellation of more than 200 small satellites in low orbit in order to provide surveillance and communication services, especially in remote and oceanic areas that are not covered by today's land-based air navigation systems. The actions presented by ENAIRE at the conference on the development of the Single European Sky to modernise control systems are outlined below.

Development of the Single European Sky

The "Actions for the Development of the Single European Sky" project is being realised through 25 investment packages with a total subsidised amount of more than 107 million euros (PRTR through MITMA). ENAIRE has already awarded 99.7% to national companies, with a level of completion of 47% (and an implementation period of 2020-2026), with only 0.3% still pending adjudication". This investment is distributed in the regions of Andalusia, Aragon, the Balearic Islands, the Canary Islands, Catalonia, Galicia, Madrid, the Basque Country and the Valencian Community.

The "Actions for the Development of the Single European Sky" Project comprises the following activities:

  • Direct investments through ENAIRE intended to develop the Single European Sky and related to the modernisation of air traffic control and surveillance systems, the digital transformation, information systems, the evolution of communications systems, as well as U-Space systems to manage drone traffic.
  • Digitisation of the aviation documents (data and charts) that are available to users for flight operations.
  • Expansion of ground/air coverage and voice digitisation in pilot-controller communications. Improvement of low-level coverage in certain areas of airspace by modernising ground communications facilities.• Evolution of the voice communications system in air traffic control centres through digitisation and advanced technology, providing an improvement in quality, enhanced safety, more information and boosting contingency capacity.
  • Technological modernisation of the network of primary radars, improving the performance in preparation for the complete digitisation of these systems by relying on every technological advance available to increase operating efficiency
  • Upgrade of secondary radar systems to Mode S technology, which provides information to the air traffic control system. Replacement of the hardware in ENAIRE's various systems. Development of different management and operational applications for ENAIRE's processes.
  • Technological modernisation of navigation systems, prioritising their complete digitisation and implementing remote monitoring and control solutions for these systems.
  • Creation of infrastructure to implement new air traffic control systems, which is essential to guaranteeing the implementation of new operational concepts in Spain. Upgrades to the facilities are planned to ensure their resilience to failures.
  • Digitisation and automation of technical management operations to improve the integration of the tools for monitoring these systems remotely.
  • Modernisation of the air traffic control system to adapt it to regulatory criteria, incorporating improvements in capacity, operational safety, cybersecurity and digitisation concepts, all derived from the Single European Sky.
  • Actions within the framework of U-Space development that will make it possible to manage the simultaneous operation of a large number of drones (autonomous electric vehicles that contribute to decarbonisation and reduce emissions of atmospheric pollutants), as well as the operation of air taxis (Urban Air Mobility) as a new concept in personal transport.

Modernisation of control systems

In particular, the Aerospace PERTE is structured around different levers, one of which is Sustainable, Safe and Connected Mobility (component 6 of the PRTR), which includes measures to enable the development of the Single European Sky that ENAIRE is implementing through MITMA with a grant from the PRTR. These investments are contained in Action 4 of the Aerospace PERTE and are intended to modernise air traffic control and surveillance systems, information systems, and aid with the digital transformation and with the evolution of communication systems. These investments focus on three areas: Sustainability, Digitisation and Security.

Importance of the aerospace sector in Spain

The aerospace sector is a strategic industrial sector due to its importance in industrial production as a whole, its role in the innovation ecosystem and its capacity to transform the economy and the labour market in general.

The Spanish Government has drawn up a PERTE for the aerospace sector, in recognition of its strategic importance, its ability to mobilise different industrial sectors and the pull effect of its activities in the field of R&D. The fundamental goal of this initiative is to make Spain's aerospace industry a key player in response to the new challenges and opportunities associated with the major transformations expected in the sector.

To do this, it will guide the sector in strengthening its capacities and in searching for solutions to meet the economic, social, scientific-technical and regulatory challenges of coming years, all while relying on the essential foundation of public-private collaboration.

This PERTE is also international in nature, as it involves close collaboration with Portugal, with both countries allocating funds from their recovery plans toward a common objective, thus generating synergies and increasing the impact. This international approach is being extended to include the European Space Agency, which will partner in some of the activities of the PERTE.

Spain's aerospace sector ranks fifth in Europe and is estimated to account for around 1.2% of Spain's GDP and 5.4% of its industrial GDP, according to documents presented at the meeting. This equates to more than 37,000 direct jobs and over 155,000 jobs if indirect and induced jobs are taken into account.