Get set for more flexible and resilient air traffic management

Jan. 26, 2021

A newly-launched SESAR industrial research project is investigating solutions for making air traffic management more flexible, efficient and responsive to changing traffic demand and conditions. The project will also trial LDACS, a technology offering spectrum-efficient data link connectivity and digital voice communications.

Funded within the framework of Horizon 2020, the Flexible ATCO Endorsement and LDACS complements project (FALCO - PJ.33) will work on two solutions, aimed at increasing the efficiency of air traffic management:

  • Building on previous research (PROSA - PJ.10), the project will investigate ways of deploying more flexibly air traffic controllers to specific portions of airspace, sectors and working positions, when and where needed. This would mean that air traffic controllers could potentially cover larger portions of airspace or take over service provision in case of outages at neighbouring air traffic control sectors. In doing so, ATC service provision would become more resilient and responsive to unexpected events, changes in traffic demand or staff shortages. This would lead to knock-on benefits in terms of cost efficiency and capacity.
  • Based on the findings on L-band digital aeronautical communication system (LDACS) that were reached in previous SESAR projects (PJ.14 and PJ.14-W2), FALCO will also test LDACS under real conditions with flight trials.  LDACS offers a viable and more spectrum efficient alternative to existing analogue radio communications; It is also an important enabler for the roll-out of dynamic airspace configuration, flight-centric ATC and virtual centres – critical solutions for making air traffic management more scalable and sustainable in the long run.

The official kick-off meeting of FALCO was conducted on the 20 and 21 January as a virtual meeting split into three parts, corresponding to the three work packages: Project management, Solution 1, Solution 2. All active partners of the project came together with representatives from the SESAR Joint Undertaking to discuss the objectives, and to outline the next steps and first actions of the project.

Project Participants:

DLR (AT-One) (Coordinator)

NLR (AT-One)






Frequentis Partners







controller desk@Photo credit: DLR


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 101017479