Moving towards virtualisation

Feb. 23, 2016

SESAR members demonstrated the first multi-vendor collaboration and progress towards virtualisation on 4 February 2016 at several European sites. The demonstration is an important milestone in air traffic management modernisation since it marks progress towards greater service orientation, interoperability, service provider independence and remote service provision.

The demonstration, which was organised by the project partners EUROCONTROL, NATS, skyguide in cooperation with SkySoft-ATM and Frequentis, presented a number of open standard service interfaces in various multi-vendor scenarios. Services including surveillance, correlation, flight data distribution, flight data management, coordination and transfer were demonstrated through remotely-connected sites located in France, UK and Switzerland which illustrated how separate sites will work collaboratively across different flight sectors.

The demonstration shows the feasibility of virtualisation as captured within the European ATM Master Plan. Virtualisation is dependent upon a number of elements; including system-wide information management (SWIM) principles of data exchange protocols and open service-oriented architecture (SOA). These principles will also enable other closely related advanced SESAR solutions and applications, such as collaborative decision making, airport operations centre (APOC), and remote tower services. Virtualisation is primarily enabled by the decoupling of the controller working position (CWP) as the client through the remote provision of ATM data and technical services, such as flight data distribution and management, as well as surveillance data.

The first SESAR results are promising in terms of increased flexibility in organising ATC operations in and between the air traffic service units (ATSUs), as well as enabling multiple ATSUs to perform services seamlessly from an airspace user’s perspective. Further R&D activities are planned and details will be refined in SESAR 2020 in order to pave the way for a broader uptake of virtualisation, enabled by SWIM applications.