At present, mid-air collisions, navigation problems due to bad weather, traffic, delays, narrow mishaps during airport landings, and environmental pollution problems are increasing in the airborne system. So, in the future, every airline needs a better air traffic management (ATM) system to avoid such problems. The result is research, development and collaboration between different aerospace players to create the advanced ATM systems of the future. Based on this, there are two well-known ATM systems which are in the development phase toward this goal – one is the European Union’s SESAR, and the other is the United States’ NextGen system.
An air traffic management (ATM) system is a set of procedures and processes to ensure secure air travel by aircraft. It contains complex processes and control systems to direct the aircraft on the ground and in airspace. So what is the purpose of advanced ATMs? Here are some answers:
- Guiding the aircraft in the best possible way in airspace and on the ground
- Manage airspace to accommodate the changing needs of air traffic over time
- Provide the best and shortest routes for airplanes
- Reduce carbon emissions and make the air transport of the future greener
- Achieve 95-98% efficiency in air traffic management by 2050
- Move from ground-based systems to satellite-based ATMs
- Achieve the highest safety and security
SESAR is the European air traffic control infrastructure modernization program aimed at developing the future European air traffic management (ATM) system.
So, why does the European Union (EU) need SESAR?
The current EU ATM system has a lot of traffic (due to travel, tourism and new business opportunities), obsolete technologies, system access issues, adverse environmental impact, problems with operation across national borders, and inefficient airspace handling procedures, all of which result in poor handling of the region’s air management system. The main goal of the SESAR project is to enable EU skies to handle three times more traffic, improve the safety by 10 times, reduce the environmental impact per flight, cut the ATM cost, and offer a common shared network operation.
SESAR is result oriented, and combines all aviation players (including Boeing like competitors), including experts from air navigation service providers, airspace users, airports, manufactures, aviation associations and organizations, the scientific world, and regulators and administrators, all to create a successful future ATM system.
SESAR uses new components such as 4D aircraft trajectories, a system-wide information system that will help all entities will access real-time data, system-wide information management (SWIM), automatic control operation, network-centric operation concepts, and the automatic separation and transaction of data.
So, the next questions which come to mind are when was it started, and when will it launch?
The SESAR project started in 2004 with the aim of collaboration between the large EU aerospace players and suppliers to produce an efficient ATM system. It has three phases, as follows:
- Definition phase (2004-2008): Content, development and deployment plan
- Development phase (2008-2013): Development of new tech systems and components
- Deployment phase (2014-2020): Production and implementation of new concepts, systems
The EU and the Americas are doing research and development of future ATM systems. The question in our mind is when will India or the Asian region countries begin this kind of initiative to develop a future, time-bounded advanced ATM system for their skies (based on their own regional, economic conditions/needs)? We are the fastest growing air traffic market, e.g. China, India, and Japan. Is it possible to create a public-private partnership like SESAR in our region? Time is running out (!) and as soon as they start this initiative, it will be better for future generations.
The Ajay Prasad committee suggested these requirements and a plan for a new advanced ATM system for our (Indian) airspace.
Some of Asian region initiatives are:
- CAAS agreement with SESAR-JU, MITRE, FAA and Airbus
- Air Navigation System (ANS), Russia
- ATMB, China
- CNS/ATM, Japan.For HCL Technologies' Aerospace Engineering Consulting services, visit the section.