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In deciding when and how to equip a fleet of transport category aircraft to operate efficiently in 21st century airspace, it’s tempting to put on blinders that extend no further than your airline’s operational area. But airspace transcends borders, so any transition plan should include international factors.
In March, Amsterdam will host two important convocations, ATC Global 2011, March 8-10,2011, and the second annual Global ATM Operations Conference, held March 10-11 by CANSO, the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation. Perusing the rosters of worldwide participants, exhibitors, and workshop topics, it is clear that we fly the same airplanes, use the same equipment, and face the same operational changes that are transforming air traffic management.
Rapidly reaching the end of its service life, the 2oth century technology of ground-based navigation and radar surveillance does not have the resolution needed to safely accommodate the world’s growing demand for capacity. Two programs are leading the transition to the 21st century’s collaborative satellite-based system. Ultimately, aircraft will report their 4D trajectory (3D + time) to the ATM network, increasing safety, efficiency, and capacity while mitigating economic and environmental factors.
In the United States, the FAA is implementing the Next Generation Air Transportation System, NextGen, and across the Atlantic Eurocontrol is doing the same with the Single European Sky ATM (Air Traffic Management) Research, SESAR. In addition, SESAR is melding the air traffic services (ATS) of its 39 European Union members into a unified operation that will deliver seamless service.
“Future operations, based on the SESAR three core principles of time, trajectory and performance, will transition aviation into a new frontier where efficiency, cost-effectiveness, safety and capacity are all enhanced,” wrote Eurocontrol Director General David McMillan in the Winter 2010 Skyway. “However, this vision can only be achieved through improved and interoperable CNS systems arrived at through common standards and specifications applied throughout Europe and eventually worldwide. This is a huge task involving all players within the aviation community and beyond.”
Under any name, 21st century ATM must provide seamless operation worldwide. To ensure technical, equipment, and operational harmony, the FAA and Eurocontrol are working together and under applicable umbrellas of the ICAO, the International Civil Aviation Organization, and CANSO, the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation.
Sister initiatives, NextGen and SESAR are multi-phase efforts built on required navigational performance (RNP) and ADS-B, what separates them most is terminology (Europe’s “WAAS” is called EGNOS, European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service) and timelines.
SESAR has three phases: Definition, which developed the master plan, ran from 2005 to 2008. Development, 2008 to 2016, produces the new technology defined by the master plan. And Deployment, 2014 to 2020, is the large scale production and implementation of the new ATM infrastructure.
The European ATM Master Plan has three Implementation Packages. IP1 covers systems ready for deployment now with ATM initial operational capability set for 2012. IP2 covers mid-term deployment of ATM services between 2013 to 2019. And IP3 addresses long-term programs that start deploying in 2020.
SESAR requires ATC datalink communications for all new aircraft delivered after January 1, 2011, and all aircraft operating in Europe will need the system by 2015. A Eurocontrol NPRM will require all aircraft to be equipped with ADS-B Out by 2015, with an exemption for those that weigh less than 12,500 pounds and cruise at slower than 250 knots. Described as a stepping stone to ADS-B In, the NPRM does not require WAAS/EGNOS and specifies less stringent GPS performance.
NextGen is phasing in ADS-B now, with full ground-station coverage planned for 2013. The FAA is encouraging airlines to take advantage of the system now (See NextGen Update: Time & Money) , it does not mandate the equipment until 2020.
SESAR and NextGen are also taking different routes to RNAV. Europe has been flying to RNAV-5 and RNAV-3 (mile separation) standards since 1998. The US is just now starting to phase it in (See Now is the Time to Invest in NextGen RNP), the FAA is way ahead of Europe in establishing precision GPS/LPV approaches at airports nationwide.
Regardless the route taken, operators and air traffic services will ultimately fly in harmonious 21st century airspace. Just as NextGen/SESAR gives operators options on the best trajectory to their destinations, ASIG can provide the guidance and services that will give international operators these capabilities.
Until next time, stay 5x5, mission ready, and Wired!