ATM Modernization, Business & GA, Commercial, Embedded Avionics

European ATM Master Plan Update Features New Avionics Roadmap

By Woodrow Bellamy III  | December 23, 2015
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[Avionics Today 12-23-2015] Single European Sky ATM Research Joint Undertaking (SESAR JU) leadership recently announced their formal approval of the 2015 update of the European ATM Master Plan. Serving as the central planning tool for defining European ATM modernization priorities, the Master Plan features an avionics roadmap targeting increased equipment harmonization and standardization between SESAR and the FAA’s NextGen programs, as well as a definition of targeted years and dates for future flight operational and ATM technology changes. 

Lufthansa A380 aircraft. Photo: Lufthansa.
Regarding increased harmonization between SESAR and NextGen, the updated Master plan specifically has a focus on ensuring that aircraft can operate in both regions without requiring equipment changes. The board overseeing SESAR JU hopes to achieve this with the development of a shared avionics roadmap for all airspace users featuring a “better understanding of data communications in terms of current applications and those needed in the future,” the plan states. 
“These include physical links, networking protocols and services taking into account a foreseen multilink environment, software radios and flight management system capabilities interfacing with flight data processing system capabilities,” the updated Master Plan notes. 
Additionally, the plan expresses a need to harmonize the development of ground surveillance applications based on Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADS-B) and the evolution of airborne ADS-B systems to meet the needs of both the ground surveillance applications and the ASAS applications. 
Under the avionics surveillance roadmap, the SESAR JU board focuses on future airborne surveillance requirements that are linked with the ability to extract avionics parameters that are necessary to support 3 mile and 5 mile separation requirements between airspace users. More specifically, Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), traffic computers, cockpit display systems and transponders are among the avionics that must become a “fully integrated element of the surveillance infrastructure,” according to the surveillance roadmap. 
Spectrum is also a major portion of the future of the European ATM Master Plan’s avionics roadmap, with SESAR JU noting that there is a growing need to identify suitable spectrum for “wireless avionics, intra-communications systems, global flight tracking, and the future deployment of Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPAs) into non-segregated airspace.” SESAR JU does not foresee new spectrum bands completely reserved for aviation use to be made available, and further expects aeronautical spectrum allocations to be under significant pressure from other industries in the future.
Avionics investments and business cases for operators with the Business Aviation (BA) is also outlined within the 2015 edition of the European ATM Master Plan. 
“The business aviation fleet flies five to ten times less than scheduled airline fleets, which leads to complex depreciation of avionics over their lifespan and multiple avionics retrofitting programs,” the plan states. “The difficulty for BA will be to quantify their specific benefits and to ensure that those benefits will be sufficient to cover the investments.”
Furthermore, the avionics roadmap targets 2018 as the first year when Aeronautical Telecommunication Network (ATN) baseline 2 datalink systems and services will become available for business aviation and commercial airliner aircraft. 

Navigation improvements in the form of precision approach and landing procedures are also a major avionics focus within the updated Master Plan. Ground Based Augmentation System (GBAS) Category 1(CAT 1) approaches have been available in Europe for several years. In 2014, SESAR members performed a round of successful validation flights with CAT 2/3 avionics receiver prototypes. Based on those results, SESAR JU assumes that if the standardization and regulation progress goes “as planned,” the first GBAS CAT 2/3 operations can be expected to become available between 2018 and 2019. 

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