[Avionics Today January 30, 2014] The Avionics Maintenance Summit (AVM) in London held an avionics session where industry executives discussed a number of key industry issues. David Bowen, Head of ATM Operations at SESAR Joint Undertaking spoke about the latest developments with the SESAR initiative. Bowen said the focus is to bring fragmented ATM research to into a coherent managed framework, calling SESAR “a complex picture.”
Bowen outlined some of the improvements they were looking to make through SESAR. “We are moving towards trajectory management. What we are trying to do is taking a wider view of the trajectory. We want to manage its trajectory so we have a more effective way of managing it,” he said.
Better traffic synchronization was also a hot topic, “What you can have is a plan that is constantly being refined. We can put in place a more effective and efficient system. We want better traffic synchronization. “You sometimes have too many aircraft arriving at once. We want to use those trajectories that we can put traffic synchronization earlier in the flight. This allows a potential increase in the overall efficiency of the system,” he said.
Another challenge facing the SESAR initiative was how to make airports themselves more efficient and resilient. “We want to bring the airport into the network level. ... We want improved surveillance. We want to provide better tools for the controllers [in conflict management]. The final thread is system wide information management. We need to be more effective in the way we manage information. People are making decisions based on different information, we need a more coherent approach,” Bowen said.
Following on from Bowen’s presentation was Peter Green, head of the Single European Sky Unit EUROCONTROL, who started by saying that interoperability is the key to bringing new, more efficient concepts. However, he cautioned, “[to] dream of a single global interoperability is a wasted dream. … in terms of concepts such as Performance Based Navigation. Interoperability is more than systems; they have to be able to speak to each other but, for concepts of operations, we need something else.”
The situation in Europe is complex, with Green saying that the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is gaining increasing influence in the field of ATM. But, even without looking at the global situation, ATM has a number of issues in Europe.
“The regulatory framework always has triangles. If you look at things in a European regulatory context, you have EuroControl [40 States], EU [28 States], European Aviation Safety Agency EASA [32 States], the European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC) [44 States].
“You have national regulators and service providers as well as industry. The EU is in the middle of this. We are seeing EASA emerge here. EuroControl is taking a step back, but are involved in the regulation. There are real issues. It is not a rationale framework, we have overlapping frameworks. Over the next few years, we have to transpose regulations into the EASA framework, which is not the same structure as the Single European Sky (SES),” said Green, who believes it is possible to achieve a single framework over the next three years. He predicts that the Single European Sky will come under the EASA framework, and that it maybe renamed the European Aviation Agency (EAA).
Regulation in Europe
European regulation was also a priority discussed at the event. One of the keynote speakers, Vincent de Vroey, general manager of technical & operations at the Association of European Airlines (AEA), Belgium spoke about Flightpath 2019, which de Vroey has the goal of working in a “holistic” way to create a sustainable industry for European airlines.
De Vroey says the AEA sees the industry as a key economic enabler, as AEA Airlines share 44 percent of air traffic in Europe. Its members have 10,000 flights a day to 600 destinations in 160 countries.
However, de Vroey believes European airlines need a change in tax structures to grow further. “The market in Europe has been liberalized, the problem we face within Europe is that we don’t have a level playing field. There are different tax regimes [but] we want a framework that allows European airlines to compete on the same basis. Air transport is very good at creating value except for itself: one in 50 jobs in Europe relate to air transport,” he said.
The environment for airlines also needs improving, he said. Profits for European airlines in 2012 worked out at 1 euro per passenger said de Vroey. “Airlines are highly exposed to external costs, [and] costs have significantly increased. Europe is trailing other regions in the world in terms of profitability.”
But, there are other issues too, which are not helping European airlines. “There is also a restricted freedom of airlines in selecting the MRO of their choice [in licensing agreements]. “There is often prohibitive pricing on testing and tooling equipment,” said de Vroey.