SESAR exploratory research project wins Jane’s Awards

Mar. 17, 2019

The SESAR exploratory research project, COCTA - co-ordinated capacity ordering and trajectory pricing for better-performing ATM – among the winners of the 19th annual Jane’s ATC Awards. The COCTA team of researchers, led by the University of Belgrade, developed complex optimisation model and applied it to a large-scale case study involving more than 11,000 flights from eight Air navigation service providers (ANSPs) in highly congested European airspace.

ANSPs have to decide on their capacity provision for a particular day of operation several weeks or even months in advance, whereas airspace users need flexibility in flight planning and prefer to make their route choice decisions at shorter notice. This contributes to a mismatch between planned capacity and actual demand in the European ATM system.

To tackle this problem, the COCTA project developed an innovative conceptual framework to improve efficiency of air navigation service provision in Europe by a better coordination of capacity and demand management:

  • On the capacity side, the Network Manager asks for airspace capacities in line with expected demand, employing a network-centred, demand-driven approach, as opposed to the current, largely supply-driven and piecemeal practice, with predominantly local (ANSP) perspectives.
  • On the demand side, the Network Manager offers different trajectory options to the airspace users, including novel concepts of flexible trajectories. One option is for an airspace user to pay less in exchange for granting the Network Manager some flexibility to move the flight with pre-determined spatial and temporal margins. Another option allows airspace users to decide on a flight trajectory within certain margins shortly prior to departure and for a premium. These trajectory options or products are tailored to capture the different business and operational needs of airspace users, thereby contributing to an optimised network performance.

The project studied the potential improvements achievable through the proposed framework, as well as trade-offs between the different key performance indicators (KPIs) in a large-scale case study. According to initial results, the framework could accommodate the same traffic volume with significantly reduced capacity and dramatically reduced cumulative delay in the network:

  • Network-oriented capacity planning improves the overall cost efficiency of ATM in Europe.
  • Innovative trajectory products/options enable airspace users to prioritise flights within the network in a fair and transparent manner