ATM modernisation: moving onwards and upwards

Sep. 21, 2017

enaire-mariluz1.jpgSESAR’s success is all thanks to strong collaboration, says Mariluz de Mateo García, Director of Business Development of ENAIRE, Spain’s air navigation service provider. With 10 years’ experience in the SESAR project, she has seen how members have put to one side their individual interests in favour of working together to modernise Europe’s skies. In this article, she gives her take on this collective approach and how it has paid off in terms of deployable solutions. She also looks to future challenges for aviation and air traffic management, and ENAIRE’s role in addressing them through SESAR 2020.

The road to collaboration

I suppose I might be called a veteran of the SESAR project, having been active in SESAR since 2008, when I was appointed Head of Strategy and Planning in Aena (the former name for ENAIRE). My first job was in fact negotiating and preparing Aena’s offer to become a member of the SESAR Joint Undertaking. But Aena’s involvement in SESAR precedes mine, having contributed to the SESAR definition phase, or “SESAME”, as it was called back in 2004.

When we got started in the SESAR JU, you could see that members were mostly driven by their individual interests. But as we moved forward, there was a real change in the mindset and a true collaborative spirit kicked in. Using their respective knowledge and expertise, industry and institutions found synergies and worked together to build a shared plan (European ATM Master Plan) and a comprehensive research and development (R&D) programme with clear targets for now and the future.

With collaboration came better coordination. Take for example the air navigation service providers (ANSPs): with the launch of the SESAR JU, ANSPs decided to come together and form the A6 Alliance, in order to coordinate ANSPs’ contributions to the SESAR R&D activities, and after its positive results, it covers now as well the coordination of SESAR deployment activities.

A catalogue of success

This multi-disciplinary and multi-stakeholder approach was key to overcoming many challenges along the way and has undoubtedly favored a definitive change in the way ATM research is done in Europe. I think we can be proud of the new concepts, procedures and supporting tools and systems developed in the first 8 years of the programme, which have been gathered and presented to the ATM community in the SESAR Solutions Catalogue.

Not only has the SESAR JU partnership delivered successful research results but we have also been a key enabler for the transition of our results towards deployment. In 2013, the SESAR JU was mandated by the European Commission to propose content for the first Europe-wide deployment project, otherwise known as the Pilot Common Project (PCP). This has ensured a coordinated approach to deployment, allowing the whole SESAR cycle to be completed.

Last but not least, I would like to recall the launch of SESAR 2020, which has greatly benefitted from the well-established relationship among all SESAR JU members and linked third parties. It would not have been possible to produce such a huge number of successful coordinated offers for the wave 1 of SESAR2020 without this well-established partnership.

Continued support in SESAR 2020

SESAR is a strategic programme for ENAIRE and so it was matter of priority to continue as a member of SESAR 2020 and carry on with the very hard work carried out in SESAR so far. Many directorates and units of our company, as well as third parties associated with ENAIRE (Aena, CRIDA, Ineco, Isdefe and NAV Portugal), are involved in SESAR 2020, resulting in a participation in a wide range of technical and operational areas. In fact, ENAIRE contributes to 19 out of the 25 projects already underway in SESAR 2020 (albeit not all to the same level of participation) with an interest in new and ongoing solution development.

Concretely, ENAIRE is heavily investing its resources in solutions related to the provision of separation in en-route and terminal manouvering area. In two words it is about service efficiency, focusing on the enhancement of supporting air traffic control tools, as well as the development and validation of new ways of control team collaboration.

The ENAIRE teams are also highly involved in enhancing the methods for detection of imbalances in demand and capacity in the network based on complexity assessment, as well as in the application of solutions to solve these complexity imbalances in order to improve capacity, cost-effectiveness and flight efficiency. In this respect, we will take part in very large scale activities to demonstrate how these solutions can improve network collaborative management.

Other areas where ENAIRE will significantly contribute are the development of communications, navigation and surveillance (CNS) systems and infrastructures, total airport management and some specific solutions aimed at increasing the runway throughput. Of course, we will also continue actively contributing to important transversal areas as we have done in SESAR 1, such as to the maintenance of the European ATM Master Plan, and other content integration activities such as performance management.

In terms of maturity, ENAIRE is focused, on one hand, on the effective development of SESAR on-going solutions (not yet completely matured) such as, to mention one example, free route in a high complexity environment, and on the other hand we are keen on exploring some promising concepts such as “flight centric ATC”.

Onwards and upwards

The end goal of all this work is to make the Single European Sky a reality, enhancing, in a continuous and consistent way, the services provided to airlines and users of Europe’s air transport system.

One of the biggest challenges related to achieving SES is translating the R&D results into effective deployment of solutions in airspace and airports across Europe. That is why compliance with PCP requirements, currently under revision, is the closest challenge to deal with in the upcoming years, together with the obligations of the future Common Project (CP2), now in development. All of this, of course has to be executed in compliance with the already mentioned SES performance scheme targets.

As part of the European ATM community, ENAIRE is also committed to achieving a seamless network of interoperable systems, one of the main pillars of SESAR. While challenging, we are convinced that the rewards will be great, like fewer delays, lower costs for airlines and reduced carbon emissions, not to mention improved operational efficiency.

Other challenges where we will place our efforts include the smooth integration of drones as part of our day to day operations and the virtualisation of services. We believe that both areas will open new possibilities in the way air navigation services are provided. The SESAR JU is a driving force to turn these challenges into actual opportunities.

To sum up, there is no better way than the SESAR way of partnership to guarantee success in ATM modernisation!