Airbus, China ATM Bureau Cooperate on ATC Modernization

 - September 9, 2013, 10:20 AM
Representatives of Airbus and China’s Air Traffic Management Bureau sign a memorandum of understanding to cooperate on ATM improvements. (Photo: Airbus China)

Airbus and the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) Air Traffic Management Bureau signed an agreement to cooperate on modernizing China’s air traffic management (ATM) system with the goal of improving air transport capacity and efficiency. Led by Airbus’s ProSky ATM subsidiary, the ATM initiative accompanies a broader collaboration between Airbus and the CAAC on aviation safety, a five-year extension of which the parties announced last Friday.

According to a joint announcement on September 4, the signatories will start four projects this year in the areas of air traffic flow management; airport collaborative decision making (CDM); required navigation performance (RNP) implementation at Chengdu Airport; and instrument landing system (ILS) performance improvement at Beijing Capital Airport. Airbus and the CAAC air traffic bureau signed a similar agreement in 2010 covering research and development, validation and deployment of ATM technologies.

Aviation authorities continue to work on ATM technologies and procedures in China and the Asia-Pacific region as a whole to prepare for the expected growth in air traffic. In July, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) opened a regional sub-office in Beijing “dedicated to improving the effectiveness and efficiency of Asia-Pacific regional ATM.” The new office complements ongoing and higher-level work undertaken through the ICAO Asia and Pacific regional office in Bangkok, and responds to the region’s projected ATM and airspace capacity challenges, the organization said.

ICAO predicts that international revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs) in the Asia-Pacific region, a measure of the number of paying passengers multiplied by the distance traveled, will double that of North America by the end of the next decade, CAAC administrator Li Jiaxiang said during the Beijing office opening. “China is expected to contribute the largest portion of the aforementioned volume,” he added.

Airbus started operations at an A320 final assembly line in Tianjin, China, in August 2008 as part of a joint venture with China Aviation Industry and the Tianjin Free Trade Zone. It delivered the first aircraft assembled in Tianjin to Sichuan Airlines. More recently, its Airbus ProSky member companies have announced new inroads on the ATM front. In July, Virginia-based subsidiary Metron Aviation said it won a contract from the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation organization to study ways of reducing aviation fuel consumption through CDM procedures. Metron announced a separate contract from Airservices Australia for the next phase of Australia’s CDM program.

In April, the CAAC and Airbus ProSky subsidiary Quovadis announced the completion of “RNP to ILS” and public RNP authorization required procedures at Zhangjiajie Airport in Hunan province, China. The designers used a China Southern Airlines A320 to validate the procedures.