Unfortunately, two-thirds of the ATM Magazine team returned from Madrid with a little parting gift from our last WATMC in Madrid – a case of Covid.  I’ve heard that there were unfortunately many others in the same situation. I’m wondering if maybe the time wasn’t quite right to have an open untested audience together in such mass quantities at this time? As a result, our WATMC feature series is coming this week instead of last.


The show began with a press conference with Inmarsat, ESA EasyJet and Airbus to announce the use of Iris to bring greener skies to Europe in 2023.  Each organisation shared their perspectives. ESA looks at Iris as a complementary communications technology and believes that ultimately this solution will go beyond Europe. EasyJet stated that current systems are limited in coverage and capacity and this solution provides a 6x increase in bandwidth while decreasing the operational requirements to bring about real-time operations planning. Airbus saw the opportunity for real digitalisation with this while providing a cyber secure ATM datalink. Inmarsat discussed their work with airlines and ANSPs to bring about new communications solutions via satellite in order to reduce environmental impact. 

This discussion makes you consider how Inmarsat might be working to make satellites ‘greener’? The two main areas of focus are to make the launch part of the lifecycle greener and to avoid space junk.  Inmarsat recently released a report compiling results from a survey of 22,000 people in 11 countries looking at the value of space. One of the key concerns of individuals in the report is that of space junk and potential damage to our environment. Inmarsat’s CEO, Rajeev Suri, explains in his introduction to the report, “for space to support sustainability on Earth there needs to be sustainable development in space”.


During the show, the launch of CANSO’s Green ATM programme was a highlight of the discussions. CANSO GreenATM is an environmental accreditation programme to provide ANSPs with an independent, industry-endorsed, accreditation of their environmental efforts. The program aims to provide ANSPs with an independent review and then accreditation of their environment efforts that they can use to reinforce their commitment to this topic. This can help with attracting customers, partners and employees who are focused on a greener outcome for our industry. CANSO is proud to be bringing its members a comprehensive programme that will both evaluate their current environmental efforts and inspire additional action” said Simon Hocquard Director General.

The program consists of five levels ranging from informal agreements (level 1) to optimised performance (level 5). Today this is focused on ANSPs, but I hope to see this expanded in the future to other contributors to our aviation supply chain. This is a great start though!

Collins Aerospace

Did you know how many different parts of the ATM ecosystem that Collins Aerospace is working in, I was surprised to learn about the breath of their current focus – ATM, UTM and connectivity. As a communications service provider, they provide communications solutions to connect aircraft to the ground and move towards digitisation. This is likely the topic most people attribute to Collins and where I had expected their main focus to be.

From an ATM perspective they are providing end-to-end solutions for airlines and ANSPs to optimise flight profiles and reduce CO2 emissions.  They are current providing flight planning and services, filing flight plans in the US, linking to FlightAware, providing global surveillance and ATFM decision support through their partnership with Metron.

Looking to UTM, there’s a lot happening here also.  UTM, BVLOS certification, web-based UAS tools, drone operations as-a-service and deconfliction via FlightAware. Looking ahead they will be jumping into space traffic management.  I hope to hear Collins sharing more information in the future about their well-kept secrets of all the projects they are involved in.


Stopped by the Frequentis stand to hear more about their latest activities related to UTM and ATRiCS.  On the UTM side they are currently working with Avinor to support 17 airports in Norway with Estonia in an evaluation trial. In Austria, there is a multi-phase solution being implemented where they are providing UTM as-a-service. I wondered about the activities related to UAM in Austria as there’s quite a bit of traction on this topic in Germany and the UK. We talked about the AirLabs program which is providing testing for unmanned aviation including UAM and flight paths in a mountainous environment along with other landscapes.

Frequentis also provided an update on ATRiCS, who provides A-SMGCS, Tower Automation, A-CDM, validation of procedures and training solutions. They are currently working with the 2nd largest airport in Denmark, where the ATCOs were given a static solution to try before actual deployment. What a great idea to get feedback from the users who count. The ATCOs were also involved in developing the tender.  As far as regions outside of Europe they are working to learn more about the needs in Asia and the LATAM region. You have different situations here were there are locations with power issues, connectivity issues and undesirable places to work.


The last stop of the show was to spend some time with Thales understanding their Wind Farm Filter solution. This was pretty cool!  Today many ATCOs are faced with information overload when it comes to locations near wind turbines. Nextgen radar already addresses the detection and possible false alarms of wind farms, but we need dedicated algorithms to help clarify what is an aircraft and what is a turbine. The solution from Thales also helps with the planning of windfarms and then the actual management of the airspace around them. According to our discussion, it takes about eight years to build a wind farm. Before this can happen, work needs to be done to assess the impact of such a development. The ability to simulate the potential impact is a key requirement.  WINRAD is a tool that helps to build a windfarm impact study to be used in these evaluations.

The Thales solution is already deployed in Europe and Africa and soon to be in Asia. Large scale trials with ATCOs involved at the simulator level have helped to make the application aligned with upcoming tenders. Trials also address offshore locations and military trials.

Unfortunately, we only have space to touch on some highlights from the show. Please check back during the course of the next few days for the more in-depth feature discussions with some of our industry’s key executives.