SESAR, a catalyst for digitalisation and connectivity in aviation, says Dassault CEO
Eric Trappier wears multiple hats. Not only is he CEO of Dassault Aviation, but he is also President of AeroSpace and Defence Industries Association of Europe - ASD, and Board Member of the SESAR joint Undertaking. In this article he discusses the challenges facing European aviation, SESAR's role in promoting Europe's aeronautics industry excellence, and challenges and opportunities that lie ahead in aviation.
What do you feel are the biggest benefits that SESAR will bring?
Optimised ATM technologies developed through SESAR improve the capacity, efficiency and safety of our skies while reducing fuel burn and hence the environmental impact of air traffic. But SESAR also has a clear mandate to be a catalyst for the introduction of new and disruptive technologies. As ASD President I‘m committed to championing this, since sustainability and capacity are no longer options but prerequisites for the continuing competitiveness of European manufacturers. Furthermore, I think that the biggest benefits that SESAR will bring are disruptive, market-creating innovations in areas of digitalisation and connectivity. These will enable ATM infrastructure to evolve towards a fully interconnected system, irrespective of physical location of infrastructure, resulting in efficiency gains at every stage of the flight, enabling improved information sharing, and a constellation of services and applications that will radically improve passenger experience. SESAR‘s collaborative ethos and its ability to drive and fast-track research and innovation which underpins the industrialisation of new and transformative technologies will bring substantial operational benefits to European aviation.
Why did Dassault Aviation decide to join the SESAR Joint Undertaking/SESAR 2020?
SESAR‘s mission and framework offer pragmatic opportunities for aircraft manufacturers, such as Dassault Aviation to contribute to the design of Europe‘s user-oriented next-generation ATM. Through participation in SESAR 2020, we anticipate that SESAR will address the specific operational concerns of business aviation, especially around the development of regional and local airports. An example of this was Dassault Aviation‘s involvement in the “Augmented Approach to Land” demonstration led by NetJets Europe, which included end-users and partners across the entire aviation sector. The project garnered the “Single European Sky award for Innovation and Technology” for 2017. Moreover, the business jet sector represents a strong economic vector in Europe for industry development, connectivity and job creation.
What is the added value for your company to be part of European projects, such as SESAR?
SESAR‘s activities are really positive for the business aviation industry and of course, as a result, for Dassault Aviation, though our efforts are mainly directed towards the whole ATM community and the development of the business aviation market. Business aircraft have to operate globally, above airliner traffic, in all types of airports, from hubs to secondary and small airports, in controlled airspace or in uncontrolled airspace, with safe and efficient integration with other airspace users. These elements lead to key challenges for tomorrow‘s business operators such as development of secondary airport accessibility, safe separation in uncontrolled class G airspace using VFR, but Dassault‘s participation in European projects is also a useful way to pool resources and deliver added value in order to strengthen the competitiveness of European aviation.
In business aviation, we expect that SESAR will introduce pertinent changes to support business challenges, and provide a significant contribution to support R&D programs. Dassault Aviation, as a business aircraft manufacturer, brings to the SESAR family its know-how as an air systems architect and integrator, focusing around the classic SESAR ATM pillars as well as on the study and development of innovative solutions. It also participates in foreseen mandates to ensure interest and maturity of solutions for our end-users. And through its expertise with drones for both civil and military purposes, Dassault will also provide recommendations for integration of all types of aircraft and UAVs in shared airspace and plans to play an active role in the future ATM frameworks with all the relevant stakeholders.
How is SESAR enabling the sector to keep a leadership role in a very competitive international industry?
SESAR‘s role in keeping European aviation at the forefront can be exemplified through its unique approach to environmental concerns. In Europe, SESAR and CleanSky build on unified objectives to deliver on the ambitious targets set by ACARE and thus enable us to remain significantly ahead of global requirements and our competitors. The synergy between both programmes is a great showcase of green EU technologies which give us a unique selling point and global recognition. The holistic approach taken by SESAR in addressing all stakeholders - commercial, business aviation, rotorcraft, military airspace users, and airports - allows us to coordinate improvements to be made on the ground, in the air, and in space throughout our increasingly interconnected aviation ecosystem.
What are the challenges and opportunities facing the aviation sector in Europe?
In terms of the challenges facing European aviation, from an ASD standpoint, I see many challenges and opportunities ahead. Drones are a good example, with their potential for societal and business benefits for European citizens as long as safety and security risks are properly addressed. Despite intensifying competition, Europe can only remain strongly positioned to lead the development of drones if European research programmes continue to drive the capacity, safety and cybersecurity agendas.
Another crucial challenge is achieving frictionless interoperability between the world‘s different and ever-modernising ATM systems, such as the interface between the USA‘s NextGen and SESAR in the EU. Harmonisation and interoperability of airspace systems across the global context is imperative, which is why ICAO is so important in setting the stage through the Aviation System Block Upgrades in support of the concept of “One Sky“ for international civil aviation.
SESAR is proving to be a powerful means to modernise aviation’s infrastructure in Europe. It is therefore vital to secure the right preconditions for our continued successes through brave decision-making. As President of ASD, European manufacturers strongly support the continuation of the SESAR mechanism to focus the EU‘s R&D expertise and accelerate our technological evolution to adapt to the pace of digitalisation in aviation.