Kay Kratky, Chief Executive Officer Austrian Airlines

Lufthansa group is fully committed to SESAR and the work of the SJU with the strong expectation that tangible and measurable operational improvements will become a reality

2016 marks the completion of the first phase of SESAR research and innovation (SESAR 1) and the delivery of technological and operational solutions ready for deployment. In this article, Kay Kratky, Chief Executive Officer Austrian Airlines, formerly in charge of Operations and Hub Frankfurt and board member of Lufthansa German Airlines, shares his thoughts on the achievements of the SESAR JU partnership.

Lufthansa Group has been involved in SESAR Joint Undertaking R&D activities during the past decade with more than 70 experts and continuously increased its efforts. Since 2012, our experts have provided more than 350 different contributions to more than 90 (out of 300) different projects including several operational trials by large scale demonstrations. Already these figures certainly indicate the complexity of the programme. We have learned that airline expertise is essentially required in ATM R&D activities. Indeed, it was a challenge to integrate airlines experts in the best way into the SJU programme and today we would all agree that without the active participation of the actual users, the airlines, any ATM modernisation programme would not succeed.

In the aviation world, technology takes time to develop, deploy and deliver benefits. For the aircraft fleet that will be in the air in the next 10-20 years, for the airports and air traffic control infrastructure the needs must be known today. And we have learned that the way towards efficient and performance driven implementation is sometimes not easy, as experienced painfully e.g. in the data link case.

Transitioning from SESAR 1 to SESAR 2020 programme, Lufthansa Group fully appreciates the ambition level and maturity of the ‘European ATM Master Plan 2015´ as it includes significant improvements to the previous editions. We strongly support and welcome the more sensible view on the challenges to the European ATM system as a whole, by switching the emphasis from a solely strong capacity need to a more balanced, cost effectiveness, operational efficiency and capacity need. We support the introduction of performance ambitions into the ATM Master Plan with a closer link to the SES high level goals and, within SES context, this comprehensive approach must be complemented with an independent performance body to finally measure the outcomes. The ATM Master Plan is delivering the scope and describing the opportunity to focus and drive a robust direction towards a more efficient European ATM system. This requires the inclusion of developments focused on cost effectiveness, like virtualization, CNS rationalization, common support services and options concerning the ATM business architecture. Additionally, standardization and regulation in the full lifecycle of the SESAR programme is a must. This includes standardization at European level as well as global interoperability and harmonization and the SJU has a key role to play, together with the SESAR Deployment Manager.

In 2016 the SESAR 2020 programme was launched to feed the European R&D pipeline and future deployment activities. An efficient and realistic but ambitious R&D pipeline further contributes to a performance driven deployment. As airline resources are very limited we positively encourage initiative-taking at all levels to implement a pragmatic approach to involve airline expertise in project work as well as in steering and SESAR 2020 governance. Lufthansa Group is fully committed to SESAR and the work of the SJU with the strong expectation that tangible and measurable operational improvements will become reality, to deliver direct benefits to the main affected parties - our customers and the environment.