SESAR makes progress on solution for seamless cross-border air traffic control

SESAR members have recently carried out a series of validations on a solution to facilitate interoperability between air traffic control systems and the Network Manager in Europe. This is a cornerstone solution in the SESAR project, which will allow the continuous exchange of up-to-date and consistent flight information between all ground actors at all stages of the flight.

Today, when an aircraft leaves the airspace of one air traffic control centre and enters another, the adjacent centres use an On-Line Data Interchange mechanism (OLDI) and voice communications, to share flight information. Centres downstream are provided with up-to-date information from the Network Manager in order to organise their airspace until OLDI passes the data required by the controllers to safely work the traffic.  Tomorrow, with the SESAR solution, the system will be automatically updated with shared information directly from controller inputs. In doing so, this allows flow managers and controllers further along the route to already compare the situation (which will be much more accurate) with the planned reality, in order to address conflicts and better manage their airspace.

During the latest validations[1] controllers came together from DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung, DSNA (Direction des Services de la Navigation Aérienne) and Eurocontrol’s Maastricht Upper Area Control Centre (MUAC) and carried out a number of tasks, such as revising the flight level, changing frequency and downstream route changes, using the Flight Object. These were carried out on a platform connecting some 13 systems (including prototypes, IBPs and supporting validation infrastructure) and using a Blue Profile SWIM infrastructure - largest R&I platform ever developed within SESAR by Indra and Thales/Selex ES.

The validations demonstrated the feasibility of using this SESAR Solution for basic cross border coordination and negotiation instead of OLDI and voice communications. In their initial feedback, controllers noted how the system would benefit their day-today operations and increase flight predictability. Given the complexity of the system, further research and development will be conducted in the current programme (SESAR 1) so that the solution is ready for Europe-wide deployment, as foreseen by the EU’s Pilot Common Project.