Representatives from air navigation service providers, ground industry and research entities recently came together to discuss SESAR 2020 plans on the development of virtual centres.

The virtual centre concept refers to the virtualisation ambition captured within the European ATM Master Plan. This concept is primarily enabled by the decoupling of the controller working position (CWP) as the client through the remote provision of ATM data and technical services, such as flight data distribution and management, as well as surveillance data.

Europe’s air traffic management (ATM) is in many cases composed of country-based systems and processes, each requiring customised system adaptations. This fragmentation or proliferation of systems results in a lack of interoperability and increased costs of air navigation services across Europe, which ultimately stands in the way of a more sustainable and competitive aviation industry. Virtual centres provide increased flexibility in organising air traffic control operations in and between the air traffic service units (ATSUs), as well as enabling multiple ATSUs to perform services seamlessly from an airspace user’s perspective.

The meeting shared the current development and deployment plans of such centres, and discussed the relationship and roles that will be needed between the ATM data service providers (ADSPs) and the air traffic services units (ATSUs). The participants also used the meeting to start defining the high-level system architecture, service definitions of the required ATM functions and the interaction between the data centres and the local and contingency infrastructures.

Led by ANSPs experts and ground industry system architects, the meeting mapped out various scenarios of architecture that will serve as baseline for use cases that will be simulated and tested within the framework of the SESAR funded PJ16-03 project. Two meetings are scheduled on 31 May and 20 September to mature the concept further.

This project has received funding from the SESAR Joint Undertaking under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 734141