Tangible examples of global interoperability

SESAR is bringing the ATM community closer to global interoperability, through developing and validating operational solutions, enablers and concepts. Here are just a few examples of the paradigm shift that is taking place:

Initial four dimension (i4D) trajectory-based operations

With i4D, air traffic controllers are able to organise aircraft arrivals in order to ensure regular flow into terminal areas. This means that airspace users don’t have to risk getting into holding patterns because controllers aren’t ready for them. This means fewer delays and lower fuel burn.



Sharing information at the right time to the right people is crucial to future global interoperability. One of the first concrete examples where SESAR and the FAA’s NextGen programme are actively striving for harmonisation lies with System Wide Information Management (SWIM). SWIM is a service-orientated and flexible concept that allows information exchange between multiple users for multiple purposes. Of course, SESAR needs to look at all aspects of interoperability, from technical to operational interoperability. In the context of SWIM, work is underway to harmonise the understanding and definitions on flight and flow information as captured in FIXM, an information exchange model developed to support the evolution of ICAO's FF-ICE (Flight and Flow Information in a Collaborative Environment). SESAR contributes by providing operational and technical expertise, ensuring alignment between Europe's needs for interoperability and the development of the globally harmonized FF-ICE and FIXM standards.


Communication, Navigation and Surveillance Technology

Deploying new CNS technologies that reduce cost and provide the improved capabilities for new concepts is at the very core of the SESAR programme. CNS technologies need to be globally operable given that they have to be used in different airspaces across the world. Again SESAR is working closely with the FAA on this area, specifically on issues such as updating safety systems such as the Airborne Collision Avoidance System (ACAS). The aim is to reduce airborne collision risk whilst enhancing the compatibility with ATM operations, both in current and future traffic environments.

SESAR and the FAA have also identified Ground Based Augmentation Systems (GBAS) as important area for coordinated development. GBAS augments Global Satellite Navigation Systems (GNSS) for use in precision approach and landing guidance and is an alternative to current Instrument Landing Systems (ILS), which is an old and expensive technology that requires protection in bad weather. GBAS permits the similar accuracy and is more cost efficient to deploy, enabling more airports to have better-quality approaches.

The FAA and the SJU recently reached an agreement on data link services standardisation, allowing both organisations to take a common position on the upcoming group standard by the EUROCAE and US standards organisation, RTCA. The need for the integration of new Data-Link services has long been identified by both organisations within their respective air traffic management (ATM) modernisation roadmaps, but up until now, they have not been completely aligned in terms of scope and timing. With this latest agreement, the FAA and SJU are now exploring further ways to ensure a united front on the standardisation of several ATM aspects.


An important part of SESAR’s work in the area of interoperability area stems from involvement in AIRE (the Atlantic Interoperability Initiative to Reduce Emissions), which was launched in 2007 in cooperation with the FAA. The SESAR JU is responsible for managing the initiative from a European perspective. The initiative accounts so far more than 10,000 flight trials that took place in real life operations with 24 projects co-financed by the SESAR Joint Undertaking. In 2009 approximately 1,150 demonstration trials for ‘green’ surface, terminal and oceanic procedures took place in five locations, involving 18 partners. Additionally, two full ‘green’ gate-to-gate flights, from Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG) to Miami, took place in April 2010. During 2010 and 2011 the SJU co-financed a further 9,416 trials in 20 more locations involving 40 consortia partners and additional 40 operators.

One concrete and very palpable example of AIRE success is on the oceanic airspaces of St Maria and New York, where lateral [separation] optimisation for any flight that requests it is possible today! Thanks to this successful test, pilots on a daily basis can look for better wind routes. Read more

Validation exercises

The aim of SESAR’s Release approach is to feed the aviation community with an incremental flow of new or improved ATM technological solutions at a pre-industrialisation stage. Results delivered through the Release process will gradually allow the European ATM network to evolve in accordance with the new SESAR paradigm, and thereby help the aviation community to overcome the constraints which currently limit the optimal performance of the ATM environment. Many of the solutions are relevant within a global interoperability context: