Countdown to #aerodays2015: Efficient and Seamless Mobility

With only 4 weeks to go until London hosts #aerodays2015 – Europe’s flagship event for aviation research and innovation – ADS will be blogging in the lead up, highlighting the importance of the 5 separate themes of the conference.

This week, we are looking at the theme of ‘Efficient and Seamless Mobility’ – which during the conference has 5 technical sessions across 3 days, and seeks to discuss how new technology can play a key part in a fully integrated and highly connected transport network across Europe.

A key European programme which will help to deliver a more interconnected transport system is Single European Sky Air Traffic Management Research (SESAR). SESAR is the technological pillar of Single European Sky (SES), a collaborative project aimed at improving the efficiency and safety of EU airspace capacity. The programme is now in its delivery phase – with several important pillars of the project making strong progress.

The European Space Agency’s (ESA) ‘Iris’ programme is one of these pillars – with the project aiming to address the annual €4 billion cost resulting from the shortcomings of the European Air Traffic Management (ATM) system. In July, Phase 1 of the project was announced as complete – which included the validation of the necessary architecture & system design required for the programme’s eventual delivery.

UK company Inmarsat are integral to the ‘Iris’ programme, helping to provide the air to ground communications in order to locate an aircraft in a ‘4D’ environment – tracking aircraft across latitude, longitude, altitude and time. This will enable a more efficient management of air traffic, and ultimately, allow the optimization of flight plans to ensure flights take the most efficient, as well as quickest, route to destination.

Alongside pillars such as Iris, NATS are one of the only UK partners within SESAR, and have led the development of a Time Based Separation (TBS) system, which is aimed at significantly reducing inbound Air Traffic Flow Management and airborne holding delays that result from the impact of headwinds on final approach. The world’s first TBS is already in operation at Heathrow Airport.

Overall, SESAR will also work with the US ATM project ‘Next-Gen’ – with further information available during Plenary 4 on Day 3 of aerodays2015, delivered by Catherine M Lang from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

SESAR’s objectives are also based on the ambitious goals of FlightPath 2050 – which aims to ensure flights arrive within 1 minute of the planned arrival time, regardless of weather conditions. Critically, improved ATM and planning will ensure that the overall transport system, which aviation is a critical component of, is resilient against disruptive events and can automatically change the route of an aircraft to benefit passengers.

In Europe, where aviation is critical to business, leisure travel and the movement of freight (22% of the value of EU trade is air freight), such programmes have the ability to revolutionize the way we travel.