SESAR and digital aviation showcased at the EU Transport Research Arena

Apr. 25, 2018

The EU Transport Research Arena (TRA) is the largest transport research and innovation conference in Europe. This year, the event was co-organised by the European Commission's DG RTD and DG MOVE with the Austrian Ministry for Transport and Innovation, and was hosted in Vienna from 16 to 19 April 2018.

Under the heading of “A digital era for transport”, the TRA explored, discussed and demonstrated how major trends such as digitisation, automation and decarbonisation are impacting Europe’s transport sector. The event brought together researchers, industries and public bodies with the aim of providing a forum where they could exchange with policy makers on the challenges and opportunities that the transport industry is facing. The conference also demonstrated the multimodal and multidisciplinary nature of the transport sector.

The SESAR Joint Undertaking was delighted to support the event, namely in the exhibition area as part of the main EU stand, which presented the results of EU-funded research projects. The SESAR area of the stand featured several digital tools to give users the chance to see the SESAR-enabled air traffic management (ATM) system of the future:

U-Space augmented reality table

With this interactive tool, visitors could learn more about the type of drone operations that will be enabled by U-space – Europe’s initiative for ensuring safe and secure access to airspace for drones.

bulc-hololei.jpgEU Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc and Director General at DG MOVE, Henrik Hololei, try out SESAR U-space augmented reality tool to experience how the concept will work in practice.


SESAR airport virtual reality tool

Using a 3D virtual system, visitors were given the opportunity to step into the shoes of an air traffic controller and manage traffic at a busy airport using a range of digital tools developed by SESAR. The 3-minute experience showed how the digital transformation of ATM can improve the efficiency and safety of airport operations, while also reducing the fuel consumption and emissions of aircraft.


Using synthetic vision, virtual and augmented reality technologies, the SESAR RETINA project has developed a set of goggles through which controllers can see 3D matrix-like displays overlaid on the actual “out-of-the-window” view.  With these goggles, the controller can have a head-up view of the airport traffic, including information such as wind velocity and direction, airport layout and runway status, even during low visibility procedures.

Signe Ratso, Deputy Director-General of DG Research and Innovation, tries out the RETINA demo



During the conference, Commissioner for Transport, Violeta Bulc reiterated her support for SESAR and highlighted the continuous need to deliver concrete results to modernise Europe’s aviation infrastructure.

More information on the event

Pictures of the event