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Network Capacity Increase from Fully Dynamic Airspace


This area of work is complementary to the work of PJ07 and PJ08 in SESAR IR Wave 1 and to the work covered by Wave 2 candidate solution 44, Dynamic Airspace Configuration, and is of special interest for the realisation of the vision put forward in the Airspace Architecture Study (AAS). Proposals must demonstrate awareness of the work covered in IR, and show how their work would go beyond. Projects must reserve effort to analyse and incorporate into their work the output of PJ07 and PJ08, which is expected at the end of 2019.

The following potential areas of application beyond IR have been identified by the SJU:

Application area 1: Dynamic Mobile Areas (DMA) Type 3

The concept of an ARES that moves along with the military aircraft whose mission requires an airspace reservation (DMA Type 3, AOM-0209) is part of the European ATM Master Plan. The original DMA Type 3 high-level concept was based on a pre-departure agreement of the DMA Type 3 4D dimensions during the planning phase. The concept is currently under initial development in IR Wave 1 by PJ.08-02 but due to the low maturity of the concept it has been decided that more ER is needed before IR can continue, and therefore DMAs type 3 will not be addressed in IR Wave 2.

The SESAR concept has evolved as a result of R&D and the possibilities opened up by advanced digital technologies. Advanced automation will allow a more dynamic and flexible management of air traffic, thereby making penalising pre-departure agreements less necessary. The challenge is to define how the original DMA Type 3 objective can be fulfilled in this more dynamic context. The expectation is that some military missions can be managed by defining a volume of protected airspace around the moving military aircraft operating under Operational Air Traffic rules (OAT), instead of requiring an ARES. The size of the protected volume would be specific for each aircraft type and mission (e.g. fighter, tanker, re-fuelling, formation...). The research should investigate the potential of this concept to reduce the need for ARES in the busy European airspace, by providing an in depth assessment of the types of military missions that may be handled in this way and quantify if there are potential benefits in further pursuing the DMA Type 3 concept.

Proposals for work in this area must demonstrate access to military stakeholders and describe how they plan to gather information to answer the research question. The output of the research should be a recommendation to either discard the DMA Type 3 concept or recommend its inclusion in the ATM Master Plan with a new refined definition. Proposals should include effort to review the output of PJ.08-02 (expected to be publicly available at the end of 2019) and incorporate it in their work.

Application area 2: Fully Dynamic Airspace beyond Industrial Research

Dynamic Airspace Configurations is currently in the scope of Wave 1 IR PJ08, and it is expected to continue in Wave 2 (Wave 2 candidate SESAR solution 44). Proposals may address DAC aspects beyond the scope of Wave 2 IR, for example:

  • Explore the integration in the DAC process of areas that are potentially unsafe due to weather phenomena that can evolve in four dimensions (moving hazard zones). The research shall explore the possibility to extend these hazard areas due to other phenomena such as volcanic ash, etc.
  • Define the required mechanisms to build adequate airspace configurations all along tactical operations (the IR scope is currently focused mainly on the planning phase).
  • Moving hazard areas.

Proposals in this application area should plan effort to review and integrate the output of PJ.08-02 (expected to be publicly available at the end of 2019) and incorporate it in their work.

In today’s operations, the available airspace configuration options are limited and not necessarily able to manage the traffic demand efficiently. If the ACCs cannot cope with the demand, then additional sectors are opened. In addition, due to the uncertainty in traffic demand, ACCs normally keep a capacity buffer to be able to safely manage traffic above the expected demand. Airspace configurations are selected with a focus on the local benefit rather than considering the network as a whole. The current airspace organisation is not yet fully optimised to network flows and makes limited use of cross-FIR cooperation.

The challenge is to develop a fully dynamic and cross-border airspace management concept that will take into consideration all capacity/demand aspects and constraints in one seamless process, with a higher level of modularity and flexibility up to the execution phase all supported by automated tools. The outcome of this will be a process that is able to take all the available inputs into consideration (predicted workload/complexity, airspace reservations, ATCO availability, etc.) and calculate the optimum configuration.

The research in this area contributes to the vision put forward in the Airspace Architecture Study (AAS).

The proposed solutions under this sub-work area aim at improving:

  • Capacity: a fully dynamic airspace allows a better use of available ATC capacity and a better balancing of ATC workload leading to reduced demand/capacity imbalance;
  • Cost-efficiency: fully dynamic airspace allows improved ATM resource planning and better use of existing capacities leading to reduced ATC costs
  • Environment sustainability: increased efficiency enabling optimised flight trajectories and profiles with the end result being reduced fuel burn, noise and CO2 emissions;
  • Flexibility: fully dynamic airspace allows increasing the flexibility of airspace configurations to adapt to any change of demand pattern or unexpected change of user’s trajectory intents.