The ATM wish list: getting closer

26 August 2016

How can you go further in improving European ATM Network efficiency, reducing delay, enhancing safety and cutting down on CO2 emissions? Not easy to do but the latest Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR) validation exercise showed that by stepping up civil-military collaboration through advanced automated systems, tangible progress can be made.

The real-time simulation exercise, called VP790, was held at the EUROCONTROL  headquarters in Brussels on 5-7 July 2016 to validate the SESAR project, State Airspace User * Step 1. It was run in collaboration with representatives from Airbus Defence and Space, the Civil-Military ATM Coordination Division (CMC), EUROCONTROL’s Network Manager and Air Traffic Management Directorates.

During the exercise, a number of flight plans were dispatched, areas reserved and many simulated aircraft flown. The exercise covered the complete lifecycle of Mission Trajectory from planning to execution; it featured all actions and actors in the Collaborative Decision Making process.

Aiming at a supremely high standard of civil-military coordination, the validation exercise integrated civil and military automated support systems. Three different systems featured: from the military side, there was Airbus DS WOC (Wing Operations Centres) with SEG (Secure Exchange Gateway) as well as EUROCONTROL’s LARA (Local and Sub-Regional ASM application). The NMVP, the Network Manager Validation Platform, represented the civil side and was also provided by EUROCONTROL.

The WOC function systems monitored the mission development starting from initial planning right through to post-ops analysis. An improved iOAT FPL (improved operational air traffic Flight Plan) was developed to guarantee the transparent and compatible dissemination of mission trajectory data through the Network Manager’s systems.

The Network Manager provided supporting data to these systems - for instance, environmental data that were shared by all three entities - as well as two new operational improvements, such as the new improved OAT Flight Plan and the extended Flight Plan. NM not only provided the SWIM-compliant (System Wide Information Management) platform but also the appropriate software: prototypes were delivered for each SESAR exercise.

An important issue for military stakeholders is confidentiality and this exercise proved that the right balance could be maintained between having data to safeguard flights without compromising confidential information.

The exercise attracted many visitors from the SESAR Joint Undertaking, the European Defence Agency, the German Air Force, the Czech Air Navigation Service Provider, Netherlands Defence and the French Air Force.

Visitors at the VP790 real-time simulation exercise.

This was the last validation exercise run in SESAR 1, but it is not the end. There is still much to be done in improving civil-military coordination and more validations are in the pipeline for SESAR 2020.

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