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Environment and Meteorology in ATM


Environmental Research

Specific challenge: Air traffic management has an important role to play in reducing the environmental impact of aviation, in addition to the improvements to be derived from new aircraft and engine technologies. Research is needed to better understand the impact of aviation on the environment and ways in which ATM can reduce these effects.

The maturity of models available to describe these is at the moment variable for ATM. It is a challenge to develop 4D trajectories that are optimised to take account of all environmental considerations and to understand the overall environmental perspective, given the dynamic and complex nature of the ATM system.

RPAS will most likely be operated in non-segregated airspace in the near future and operating characteristics and mission design mean that their environmental impact may be quite different from that of other traffic. For example noise annoyance close to populated areas or increased contrail formation due to long endurance operations at very high altitudes.

Scope: Some tools to model the environmental impact of aviation in different phases of flight have reached a certain maturity (e.g. local noise models) whilst other impacts are not yet well described (e.g. contrail formation). Building on existing work, modelling capabilities should be improved where needed to allow a multi-dimensional environmental impact assessment. It may be that new metrics are necessary to describe environmental impacts in some dimensions, with the European citizen the ultimate focus of attention (including social and long-term health).

ACARE has set out a number of specific environmental targets. These new targets need to be studied to assess how they will affect ATM operations and performance.

Expected impact: This environmental research has the potential to enhance our understanding of the environmental impacts of ATM operations and how they can be minimised during different phases of flight. More specifically, projects will contribute to the environmental objectives defined by ACARE Working Group 3.

Type of action: Research and Innovation Action (RIA).


Aviation is fundamentally affected by weather, and advances in the understanding and prediction of local and global meteorological effects will increase the efficiency and safety in the system. Enhanced meteorological information and capabilities made available system-wide have great potential as long as ATM is able to integrate the information fully into its decision making process.

Specific challenge: Research into enhanced meteorological capabilities and their integration into the ATM planning processes has great potential for improving ATM efficiency, e.g. through robust planning less vulnerable to unforeseen changes in weather; or through improved air-ground trajectory synchronisation. This requires understanding of the potential of different types of weather-related information in ATM operations taking into account the inherent uncertainty of meteorological information.

Scope: Research may investigate the vulnerability of the ATM system to local weather phenomena, with existing knowledge taken into account. Research may also investigate the levels of which weather uncertainty impacts 4D trajectories. Research to understand the impact of global and/or long-term phenomena such as climate change, global warming, changes in the frequency and severity of extreme weather or ash-cloud formation on ATM operations may also be considered.

Expected impact: This research will contribute significantly to enhancing ATM efficiency by integrating meteorological information. It will also lead to a better understanding of the resilience of the ATM system to local and global weather phenomena.

Type of action: SESAR2020 Research and Innovation Action.

Further conditions related to this topic are provided in the Technical Specification of the Call.