SESAR Program Plans Flight Tests of New Procedures

 - November 19, 2012, 9:35 AM
UK-based carrier easyJet participates with 15 other airlines in European flight trials scheduled to begin in 2013 to test new air traffic management procedures and technologies. (Photo: easyJet)

Airbus and its air traffic management subsidiaries, together with systems integration company EADS Cassidian, said they will participate as industry partners in seven European flight trials set to begin early next year through 2014 under the direction of the Single European Sky ATM Joint Undertaking (Sesar JU).

The so-called “integrated flight trials and demonstration activities” involve multiple aircraft types and flight environments. The Sesar JU is conducting them as part of the Atlantic Interoperability Initiative to Reduce Emissions (AIRE), a cooperative program of the European Commission and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration. In its call for proposals, the Sesar JU, an administrative body based in Brussels, said it allocated €2.5 million ($3.2 million) to co-finance the trials.

In 2010, under an earlier phase of the AIRE program, the Sesar JU funded 18 separate projects involving 14 airlines. Sixteen airlines participate in the current phase, along with air navigation service providers Enav of Italy, Lfv of Sweden, Dsna of France, Aena of Spain, UK Nats and Nav Canada.

Plans call for the trials to test a number of new ATM procedures and technologies to achieve optimal routings and reduced emissions. They include controller pilot datalink communications (CPDLC) for routine messaging between ATC and pilots for clearances, handovers and routing instructions; improved management of airspace sectors and arrival traffic sequencing; the use of “target time of arrival” as a measure to balance capacity and demand; the use of pre-agreed “reference business trajectories” for transatlantic flights from London’s Heathrow Airport; and precise required navigation performance-authorization required (RNP AR) approaches. Another project involves enhancing the “collaborative pre-departure sequence” procedure already in use at Paris Charles De Gaulle Airport.

The CPDLC tests will extend the use of text messaging between pilots and controllers below 28,500 feet–the present limit in some European upper airspace. Enav leads the effort, which also involves partners Airbus ProSky, UK Nats, easyJet, Air France, Boeing, Selex Systems Integration and Sita.

Airbus formed its Airbus ProSky subsidiary in 2011 to support ATM modernization efforts. The Airbus ProSky Group also consists of Quovadis, Metron Aviation in the U.S., and ATRiCS Advanced Traffic Solutions, a German firm that develops ATC software. The AIRE trials “will help not only to pave the way for further reducing emissions, but also to optimize capacity and demand throughout the North Atlantic and continental European airspace,” said Eric Stefanello, Airbus ProSky CEO.