Now, more than ever before, the
challenge facing European Air Traffic Management (ATM) is how to generate
sufficient capacity, while simultaneously meeting the public's demands
for more flights, increased safety levels and lower costs. New equipment
is needed, both on the ground and in the air, including more advanced
Communications, Navigation and Surveillance (CNS) equipment on large numbers
of new and existing aircraft. At the same time, services and procedures
have to be modified and adapted. In short, a new approach to ATM is required,
including technological innovations and new management processes.
and MA-AFAS - taking pressure off of air traffic controllers
The aeronautics industry is currently undergoing a
major revolution, which is being driven by the inexorable growth of civil
air traffic. Many expect the remarkable rate of growth, now estimated
at between 5% and 8% per year, to rise even higher over the next decades.
At the same time, the current European ATM system has been pushed to breaking
point. Today, air transport is characterised by inefficient routing for
operators, long waits and increasing numbers of delayed flights for passengers,
and unacceptable stress for air traffic controllers.
Until now, research has focused on a number of individual
innovations in support of improved CNS and ATM, but the actual integration
of a beneficial selection of these technologies into a functioning public
transport system has yet to be undertaken.
launched in April 2000, is a three-year project investigating the
cost-benefit relationship of combined innovative technologies, the
regulatory, safety and service standards required for their safe
and successful operation on a day-to-day basis, and the engineering
and operational issues that these standards will need to address.
To ensure the widespread acceptance of its findings, the AFAS project
is basing its investigation on the use of existing international
interoperability standards, with 2005 as an initial integration
Speaking at the Aeronautics
Days 2001 conference in Hamburg earlier this year, project co-ordinator
Peter Potocki de Montalk explained that AFAS is primarily addressing
aircraft-related issues, concentrating its efforts on the integration
of ICAO-standardised CNS/ATM technology within the Airbus A320,
an aircraft which is expected to handle a large of proportion of
Europe's air transport needs in the coming years.
The AFAS project is helping to pave the way
towards the future ATM system and will contribute to improved air
traffic as a whole. The consortium, led by Airbus
Industrie , will set out an operational ATM scenario, select
airborne technologies, develop an avionics package, validate the
concept in co-ordination with the ground segment, and demonstrate
the economic feasibility of implementation. In addition, the human
factor as well as certification issues will be addressed.
||MA-AFAS: out of
the tower and into the aircraft
Much of the work
currently being undertaken in this area involves the common operational
concept of a greater level of autonomy for the individual aircraft,
i.e. getting more Air Traffic Control (ATC) functionality out of
the control tower and into the plane. According to Tony Henley,
co-ordinator for the MA-AFAS
project (see also http:www.ma-afas.com/)
: "If planes could talk to each other, identifying themselves,
saying where they are and where they're going, a lot of pressure
would be taken off of the ATC system, allowing a significant increase
in air traffic capacity."
MA-AFAS, which began in March 2000, is concentrating
on the validation of an advanced Airborne Separation Assurance System
(ASAS). "Digital data links are the key to today's new surveillance
systems," says Henley. "They allow aircraft to link up
with each other the way people might do on the internet. One type
of link is called 'point-to-point' in which individual aircraft
can talk to both ATC and airline control centres on the ground.
The other type is a broadcast data link in which aircraft can simply
broadcast their positions to any and everyone in the area."
The MA-AFAS Avionics Package will be validated
using both flight simulators and trials on experimental aircraft.
This validation will employ real data link communication, representative
navigation facilities and surveillance functions.
The package will be tested with simulated and shadow operational
ATC centres to verify its interoperability with the ground environment
and to evaluate the economic, environmental and social benefits.
||A strong collaborative
a strong team led by BAE
Systems, Avionics Group. "We are a diverse team,"
says Henley. "Avionics suppliers, ATC equipment and service
providers, communications people and airlines from around Europe
are all working together on this. The European Commission has also
shown a lot of interest and has been very helpful."
The AFAS and MA-AFAS projects were designed
to be complementary. Both are taking into account the activities
of other related Fifth Framework Programme projects as well as those
of TEN-T and
ATM 2000+ strategy. EUROCONTROL
is also an active participant in both projects.
One of the main priorities for the Growth
Programme's key action in New Perspectives
in Aeronautics is the strengthening and further development
of Europe's Air Traffic Management System, including the improvement
of both ground-based and air-based technologies.
AFAS - aircraft in the future
air traffic management system;
MA-AFAS - more autonomous aircraft in the future
air traffic management system.