The increase in air traffic is causing the current ATM (Air Traffic Management) structure to be saturated and negatively impacting travel experience and the environment. In June 2022, the average delay per flight on departure in Europe was of 24.4 minutes while being 7.4 minutes in 2021. In addition, flight routes are not optimised to reduce travel time and pollution. With the constant growth of air traffic, it is important to resolve the problem before it dramatically deteriorates.
SESAR, the Single European Sky ATM Research team along with strong collaboration with ATM stakeholders have developed a solution: the European ATM Master Plan. This plan provides a clear vision on the renewing of the legacy ATM architecture and networks through disruptive digital transformation. By combining airspace design and technical solutions, we can aim to obtain a fully interconnected system that is fed with past and real-time data to effectively control and manage air traffic. The key to achieve this is data:
Unified information between systems and tower controls,
full air-ground system integration,
high level of connectivity and automation using principles of connected mobility,
simulations and predictability to improve algorithms and increase resilience to all types of incidences (system or flight-related),
optimisation of trajectories using weather data and eliminating cross-border restriction,
training workforce to ensure flawless operation
A bright future where a digital ecosystem enhances the efficiency and robustness of ATM by also reducing flight delay, costs and environmental impact.
Such exciting technical advancements will certainly drive subsequent co-innovation in the connected ecosystem of service providers. For example, working with SESAR to improve flight efficiency and trajectory prediction is Airbus, which is already further innovating in connected air mobility with UTM projects (Unmanned Traffic Management).
These projects use data and networks such as 4G and 5G to develop new secure modes of transport such as aerial taxis and drone delivery which will revolutionise the way we live. Large cities like London are already taking a first step by allowing to drone delivery trial to occur.
This great future is near and it is now that we must act to be part of it. I’m in!
- SESAR Joint Undertaking, 2020, “European ATM Master Plan”, https://www.atmmasterplan.eu/
- Eurocontrol, June 2022, “All-Causes Delay to Air Transport in Europe”, https://www.eurocontrol.int/sites/default/files/2022-07/eurocontrol-all-causes-delay-to-air-transport-europe-202206.pdf
- Airbus UTM projects, https://www.airbus.com/en/innovation/autonomous-connected/airbus-unmanned-traffic-management/airbus-utm-projects-publications
- Philip Georgiadis, April 2021, Financial Times, “UK regulator gives green light to delivery drone trials”, https://www.ft.com/content/66487d88-a6b3-4e46-9b8a-00e38e93d3af