Enhancing safety of airport operations

Apr. 25, 2014

Christelle Pianetti, DSNA, is the coordinator of Project P6.7.1, which received the “Outstanding Project” award from the SESAR Joint Undertaking at a ceremony in Madrid on 5 March. The project was recognised for its pioneering role in developing Airport Safety Support Tools for Pilots, Vehicle Drivers and Controllers, with a very clear roadmap to 2016. In this article, Ms Pianetti explains the project’s impetus and outcomes, and why it is deserving of the recent accolade.

What was the impetus of the project?

Some safety tools are already implemented at several airports, such as Advanced Surface Movement Guidance and Control System (A-SMGCS) Level II or stop bars.  To further improve safety of airport operations, P6.7.1 is investigating and validating several additional safety support tools, for pilots, vehicle drivers and controllers:

  • Runway Status Lights (RWSL), which consists in a system of lights that automatically and directly indicate to vehicle drivers and pilots when it is dangerous to enter, use or cross a runway;
  • Alerts for Tower controllers, taking into account the clearances input by the controller in the Electronic Flight Strips and surveillance;
  • Alerts for vehicle drivers in case of risk of collision and infringement of a restricted or closed area;
  • Traffic alerts for pilots in case of a risk of collision with a mobile during runway operations, and non conformance alerts

 Describe the work of the project and its results?

The project has progressed on all work areas in parallel. For each safety net, initial operational and safety requirements have been developed and refined in a step-by-step approach. Several validation exercises have been performed, at V1, V2 or V3 level, using real-time or shadow mode techniques. Several more are planned to progress on the validation path before the end of the programme, under the Operational Focus Area (OFA) umbrella: live trials at Paris Charles de Gaulle on Run Way Status Lights (RWSL), real-time validations on Tower controllers safety nets (Paris-CDG, Barcelona, Milano-Malpensa), live trials at Paris CDG on vehicle drivers safety nets, real-time simulations using mock-ups and prototypes for cockpit alerts.

What is the value of conducting such an R&D project within the SESAR programme?

P06.07.01 is almost 4 projects into one and covers a range of expertise. Working on all these tools was made possible by the contribution of 8 partners, with different backgrounds (e.g. ANSPs, industry, airport operators). In addition, the creation of the “Airport Safety Nets' OFA helped to have a closer coordination with technical projects developing the technical specifications and the industrial prototypes, and on the integrated validations addressing the subject.

How do you believe the results of the project can serve future ATM research and development, and more broadly air transport?

The project contributed to progress on the definition of requirements for new safety support tools, with an opportunity to validate them in various airport environments. The Tower controller safety nets were selected by the SJU to be part of the Pilot Common Project and are reaching to a maturity level close to deployment.