Making air travel more predictable – Airbus delivers milestone for SESAR large scale demo

Mar. 17, 2019

SESAR JU member, Airbus, has delivered the first FANS-C-equipped A320 aircraft to easyJet. These aircraft will be the first to take part in a large-scale SESAR project demonstrating how sharing trajectory data with air traffic control can improve the predictability of air traffic. Known as 'DIGITS' - Demonstration of air traffic management Improvements Generated by Initial Trajectory Sharing - the project will now begin its operational phase involving easyJet flights later this year.

FANS-C technology will enable airlines to optimise their aircraft’s trajectories and make traffic flows more fluid and aircraft speed easier to manage, which will help them to save fuel and reduce noise. In particular, the sharing of predicted trajectories with air traffic control will enable smooth aircraft sequencing on approach and in the airspcae surrounding airports, known as the terminal maneuvering area.”

Hugh McConnellogue, Group Head of Network Operations at easyJet said: “We are very pleased to be the first airline to receive this new FANS-C technology in our Airbus aircraft – and to try it for real in the SESAR demonstration. Our early hands-on experience already indicates that it promises to be an important enabler to increase the efficiency, safety and on-time performance of our expanding operations – especially in the congested European airspace.”

Jean-Brice Dumont, Executive Vice President of Engineering, Airbus Commercial Aircraft said: “We congratulate easyJet on the delivery of the first FANS-C equipped Airbus aircraft, which marks the start of this very large demonstration of 4D initial trajectory sharing across Europe.” He adds: “We are proud to lead this SESAR project and to play our part in helping ATM respond to the increase in air traffic volume while enhancing safety, and to bring about a positive environmental impact thanks to a more efficient ATM system.”

From now until mid-2020, seven European airlines, which are all taking part in DIGITS, will progressively equip up to 100 of their A320 Family aircraft with the FANS-C technology. The very-large demonstration (VLD) will last more than a year and collect data from over 20,000 revenue flights, allowing stakeholders to demonstrate benefits of this technology during live day-to-day operations.

Paving the way for start of the DIGITS operational phase and to ultimately deploy this technology across Europe and the rest of the world, Airbus achieved the world’s first certification of FANS-C 4D avionics on a commercial aircraft in November 2018 – the initial aircraft type being the A320 Family. Moreover, to complement the airborne FANS-C technology, air navigation service providers (ANSPs) throughout Europe will develop the respective ground ATC tools.