Miriam le Fevre is SESAR Programme Manager on behalf of the COOPANS Alliance, one of the new organisations to join the SESAR 2020 family. In this article she provides an overview of the Alliance and its rationale for becoming a member of the SESAR Joint Undertaking.  She also highlights some of the areas of the SESAR 2020 where COOPANS participation will be strongest.

The COOPANS alliance was established in 2006 and today has five members – Austro Control, Croatia Control, Irish Aviation Authority, LFV and Naviair. The original purpose of the Alliance was to upgrade and standardise the partners’ ATM systems into a single unified ATM system that uses common software and entails harmonised maintenance processes and operational concepts. COOPANS thereby enables the partners to cut their development costs through continuous – and from 2014 - synchronous upgrades of the ATM system.  Through continuous upgrading the partners avoided the alternative, namely individual major and very costly ‘big bang’ ATM system migrations.

COOPANS has achieved a very high degree of standardisation and harmonisation. Instead of having individual customised systems varying from control centre to control centre, COOPANS has seven control centres in Ireland, Denmark, Sweden, Austria and Croatia, where the system has been fully harmonised since 2014.  COOPANS is now set to harmonise operational and technical procedures in order to reduce the extent of country-level customisation and tailored functionalities. 

We recognised early on the need to influence research and development (R&D) as an important means to achieving maximum performance at the lowest costs possible. SESAR is the leading vehicle for ATM R&D in Europe so it made sense for us to get more involved in the programme. That opportunity came along in 2014 when the membership for SESAR 2020 was opened, and two years later our Alliance became an official member of SESAR JU.

Some might think we are the new kid on the block but it is not really the case. Four members of the COOPANS Alliance already had a wealth of experience from their participation in SESAR 1 via NORACON. Having said that, the COOPANS consortium has a completely different setup and many people were new to SESAR, so getting ready was a challenge. Being a new entity in SESAR JU was a good experience – the mixture of experienced members and new members gave a very good working environment with a lot of drive.

We are serious about SESAR 2020. That is why we have established a dedicated team composed of five local progamme managers and a large number of very dedicated and skilled experts. Our participation is two-fold – with strong aligned focus on development of the common ATM-system and in projects with particular interest for one or more of the partners. Core interest areas are arrival and departure management, separation management, trajectory management and remote towers.

There is a strong need for collaboration in Europe to ensure increased performance in the coming years, as the challenges are growing. COOPANS is dedicated to supporting a focused approach and alignment in the SESAR 2020 Programme and has furthermore engaged in transversal activities of high importance – one of the focus areas here being cyber security, which is one of the biggest challenges right now. Another area of growing importance is the work done in Europe in exploratory research. This area is monitored closely by COOPANS, and our expertise will be made available where we deem it beneficial and feasible.

We look forward to working closely with our European partners to deliver real change to ATM now and for the future!