[Avionics Today 11-30-2015] The Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA) "green lighted" several Air Traffic Management (ATM) modernization deployment activities related to the Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR) program on Nov. 27, according to the European Commission. INEA announced the availability of funding for the deployment activities ahead of its 2015 CEF Transport Calls Info Day, where the European Commission provided updates on several major European transportation modernization projects, including the Single European Sky initiative.
The activities that have been awarded CEF grant funding total more than $336 million, and are defined under the Pilot Common Project (PCP) in the latest version of the Single European Sky Deployment Program issued by the SESAR Deployment Manager last week.
According to INEA, the activities selected for funding include 87 implementation activities within five of the six ATM functionalities identified by the PCP. These activities include:
• Extended arrival management and Performance Based Navigation (PBN) in high density terminal maneuvering areas;
• Airport integration and throughput implementation;
• Flexible airspace management and free route implementation;
• Network collaborative management implementation; and
• Initial System Wide Information Management (SWIM) implementation
INEA also notes that these activities will be implemented across 23 total European Union (EU) member states, as well as Bosnia and Herzegovina and Norway.
During the European Commission's 2015 CEF Transport Calls Info Day, Cristobal Milan de la Lastra, head of Unit INEA-C2, made clear the types of implementation activities that will be prioritized as the Single European Sky project moves further into its deployment phase
"Importance will be assigned to those categories of projects that are aiming to deploy new technologies and best practices aiming to support interoperable ATM systems and equipment,” said de la Lastra. “The second priority aims to specify and deploy a new generation of flight and radar data processing systems based on European standards, open source and modular systems. The third priority is addressing the optimal provision of air navigation services in the context of the Functional Airspace Blocks [FABs]
The INEA expert also stressed the importance of the FABs, which are an essential aspect of the Single European Sky program. The goal of this initiative is to reduce the number of individually state run notional Air Traffic Control (ATC) centers throughout Europe from 29 to nine.
While progress has been slow in this area, there have been some recent updates reported by the Ministers of Transport of the member States of Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland (FABEC). During the first nine months of 2015, there have been 240 new direct routes (DCTs) implemented across the FABEC airspace. FABEC also reported in October that current forecasting for its Free Route Airspace Project suggests "potential annual reductions in flying distances of approximately 510,000 nautical miles, saving airlines 3,000 tons of fuel, which will lead to a reduction in CO2 emissions on the order of 10,200 tons."
Outside of stressing the importance of more progress with the FABs, Marco De Sciscio, policy officer for Single European Sky Unit of the European Commission, also reiterated some of the overall goals of the Single European Sky program. The initiative aims to "triple the current capacity of the ATM system, to improve safety by a factor of 10, to enable a 10 percent reduction of the environmental impact by flight and to cut by half the cost of the provision of air traffic management services," said De Sciscio.
"It's not just a question of developing high tech and highly performing aircraft; in fact the performance of these highly performing aircraft could be seriously compromised if they're forced to fly sub optimal flight trajectories or obliged to circle above airports because of highly congested airspace or because of the fragmentation of the air traffic management system in the [European] Union today," he added.