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Air Traffic Management

Air Traffic Management

Through its Airbus ProSky subsidiary, Airbus is dedicated to the development and support of modern, air traffic management (ATM) systems globally. The goal is to achieve the highest operational efficiencies with more direct routings, resulting in around 10 per cent less aircraft fuel consumption and significant reductions in CO2 and noise emissions. 

Airbus is interacting with - and helping to develop - ATM programmes such as “Single European Sky ATM Research” (SESAR) in Europe, and NextGen in the United States. A major Airbus ProSky goal is to accelerate the implementation both systems and link them together to capitalize on technological and operational synergies. 

Airbus ProSky also is dedicated to supporting Collaborative Decision Making (CDM), which is a joint venture between the aviation industry and government to improve air traffic flow management through the sharing of information.

Airbus ATM initiatives

Airbus has participated in the Green Flights and Green Shuttle initiatives, which aim to decrease fuel consumption.

Airbus took part in the “Green Flights” initiative, in which an A380 was flown from Paris to New York so that two aspects of this Air France route could be examined for ways to reduce energy consumption– one used a two-engine taxi-out for the flight’s ground movement phase, and the other worked to optimize transatlantic trajectory for the en-route phase of flight. 

Another project, known as Green Shuttle, was executed under the leadership of the French ANSP air navigation service provider with Air France and Airbus as partners. The initiative worked to demonstrate improved fuel efficiency through 60 revenue flights using an A320 Family aircraft in optimising trajectories laterally and vertically during all phases of the “La Navette” flights between Paris-Orly Airport and Toulouse.

Quovadis, an Airbus subsidiary offering services for the implementation of required navigation performance (RNP) procedures, contributed to the Validation and Improvement of Next Generation Airspace (VINGA) project. VINGA optimised all phases of flight with an emphasis on the implementation of new RNP arrival procedures. These new procedures reduced track-distance while also lowering noise and facilitating continuous descent operations (CDO).

Airbus has also partnered with China in implementing the latest ATM technologies to improve air transportation capacity and efficiency in China, while contributing to a sustainable future. The company signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in 2013 with China’s Air Traffic Management Bureau (ATMB) under the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) to cooperate on modernizing the country’s air traffic management system. This was followed by an additional Memorandum of Understanding in March 2014, which further expanded the scope of this continuing collaboration.

Metron Aviation

In 2011, Airbus entered into a definitive agreement to acquire U.S.-based Metron Aviation, the global aviation industry’s leading provider of advanced air traffic management products and services. Metron Aviation is a prime contractor on the US Federal Aviation Administration’s SE2020 strategic program for implementing NextGen, and is performing advanced research and development work on SESAR.

The Metron acquisition gives Airbus the opportunity to work with the FAA and any of world’s air navigation service providers that are looking to optimise airspace capacity while reducing aviation’s carbon footprint.

SESAR and NextGen

The SESAR initiative is a partnership created to provide improved control of the aircraft flying the skies of Europe, while preventing congestion and reducing the overall environmental impact of air transport. By 2020‚ SESAR also is aiming for a threefold increase in European air traffic capacity‚ while significantly improving safety.

Airbus also supports the creation and implementation of the United States’ NextGen traffic management system. The Federal Aviation Administration estimates that NextGen will reduce delays by 35 to 40 per cent by 2018 in comparison with current systems.

Courtesy of SESAR

Air traffic management to the 4th dimension

The first I-4D test flight was the product of months of collaboration between several SESAR partners, including Airbus.

The application of four-dimensional optimised and upgraded Air Traffic Management technology also is a focus of Airbus.  Known as I-4D (Initial-4D), the technology’s main benefits are a significant reduction of fuel burn and C02 emissions.

Airbus and several SESAR partners collaborated on the initial test flight with this four-dimensional optimised and upgraded air traffic management system.  I-4D was evaluated using an A320 dedicated test aircraft while operating from Toulouse, France to Copenhagen, Denmark on February 2012.

This technology advancement is expected to decrease flight delays, resulting in shorter and smoother flights for passengers, as well as reduce fuel consumption and C02 emissions.  The I-4D system relies on airborne computed predictions in ground systems to establish a sequence for all air traffic converging to a merging point in a congested area. Its designation as 4D-trajectory comes from the handling of trajectory management in three dimensions (lateral, longitudinal and vertical), and includes one target time at a specific merging point (time as the fourth dimension). 

Once proven and industrialised, I-4D would allow aircraft to plan and fly an optimised and efficient profile without the need for controllers to provide vectoring instructions. Advantages include better predictability of the traffic flows and the facilitation of highly efficient Continuous Descent Operations into airports. 

Did you know?

"In the last 40 years, the aviation industry has cut fuel burn and CO2 emissions by70%, NOx emissions by 90% and noise by 75%."

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