Skip to main content

Programme Category


Article available in the folowing languages:

Measuring and Managing ATM Performance

Proposals submitted for this topic should clearly describe an ATM performance assessment or an ATM performance management concept and describe what the expected benefits would be and how they will undertake its initial validation. Proposal should take previous work into account, in particular.

The following non-exhaustive list of potential candidate application areas has been identified as being of interest by the SESAR Joint Undertaking:

Application area 1: Development of digitalization indicators for ATM

SESAR contributes to the EC’s digitalization objectives by bringing digitalization to ATM, in accordance with the Aviation Strategy for Europe. The challenge is to propose and validate digitalization indicators that are relevant for ATM and can be used to assess progress. The research must consider how the proposed ATM digitalization indicators compare to those used by other industries, as well as to the more cross-industry generic indicators and to the ATM digitalization indicators that will be proposed in the next ATM Master Plan (publication expected during 2019).

Application area 2: Improved consideration of resilience by the SES/SESAR performance framework.

Resilience can be defined “as the capacity of a system to absorb disturbance and re-organize while undergoing change so as to still retain essentially the same function, structure, identity and feedback”. The consideration of resilience is part of the SESAR safety reference material, but the consideration of resilience beyond safety in SESAR is limited to the measuring of resilience to capacity (as percentage of capacity loss in non-nominal situations), which is used by projects working on concepts that support disruption management. Delay, fuel efficiency, punctuality and predictability indicators are the same for nominal and non-nominal situations, and SESAR ambitions and validation targets are set based on average values measured in real operations, where outliers may have a disproportionate impact. Likewise, the SES performance scheme sets targets against average values, without differentiating between nominal and non-nominal situations. Research should propose a way forward to improve the consideration of resilience by suggesting different indicators and/or targets for nominal and non-nominal situations, and undertake an initial validation (e.g. show how the assessment of performance would be more meaningful with their proposed methodology). The indicators should be able to capture the three the three complementary resilience capacities: absorptive capacity, restorative capacity and adaptive capacity. Proposals for work in this area must describe how their work is positioned with respect to the research project RESILIENCE 2050.

Application area 3: Development of multi-modal performance indicators and ambition

The Flightpath2050 has set a goal for a maximum of four hours of door-to-door travel time in Europe by the year 2050. There is a need to better understand how to work towards the achievement of this ambition, by breaking down the total travel time indicator between different modes of transport and different phases of travel within each transport mode (e.g. for air travel total travel time could be broken down into check-in time, baggage collection time, in-airport walking time, travel time to and from the airport...) and then benchmark each of the phases and set ambitions for each of them. Proposals must focus on measurements that affect air transport, but may include the consideration of other modes of transport if their relevance to ATM is justified in the proposal (e.g. travel to and from the airport, travel times in other modes of transport for comparison with flight-times and potential consideration by ATFM or for the route charging scheme). The consideration of the trade-offs in performance between passenger travel time and transport mode travel time is also in scope for this topic, e.g. to consider when an aircraft waits for delayed connection passengers (arriving by air or by another transport mode) the trade-off between the increased delay of the flight and the decreased delay of the passengers (compared to whether the flight had not waited for them and they had had a longer wait until the next flight).

Proposals in this area must plan effort for coordinating with projects awarded under topic - Innovation in Airport Operations” - working on the improvement of airport operations in contribution to multimodality and projects awarded under topic - “ATM Role in Intermodal Transport”.

Application area 4: Development of environmental indicators

The objective is to further develop the assessment of the impact on the environment of aviation, measuring noise, air quality and pollution beyond what is currently considered by the SES regulation and the SESAR performance framework. Indicators may assess, for example, noise impact from traditional aviation and/or drones, NOX, contrails and their impact, local air quality, etc. Projects working in this area should consider how their proposed approach compares to the approach by Clean Sky and refer to the European Aviation Environmental Report.

The research activities may also review the interrelation of the environmental targets set by the SES Performance Scheme for the second reference period (RP2), the PRB Advice to the Commission in the setting of Union-wide performance targets for RP3, the environmental ambition in the ATM Master Plan for 2035, the SESAR Programme validation targets and the environmental ambitions set by Flightpath2050 ACARE for 2050 in order to provide insight on how they complement each other and how the metrics used in SESAR may evolve to best support the achievement of all the aforementioned ambitions and targets.

Application area 5: Further development of the concept of unconstrained reference trajectory against which to calculate additional track-miles or flight-time in the TMA

For the calculation of additional arrival flight-time in the TMA, the current SES regulation uses as a reference the unimpeded trajectory from a distance of 40NM around the airport, which is calculated as the statistical minimum for each aircraft category. For en-route, the reference trajectory is the great circle distance.

The objective of the research is to study potential evolutions of the current SES indicator in order to overcome some of the current limitations, for example:

  • Limitations due to the reference a trajectory in the TMA being calculated statistically, which may result in situations where an average improvement in track miles counts as a decrease in performance and vice versa.
  • Limitations due to the great circle not considering the ARES demand that affects the trajectory, which may result in an increase in ARES demand resulting in a decrease of the performance of the ANSP.
  • Limitations due to the additional time in the TMA not considering departures.
  • Limitations of the one-size-fits-all 40NM limit between en-route and TMA used in the SES not being tailored for each airports.

Application area 6: Development of arrival delay indicators and targets

From the point of view of the passenger, “on-time” arrival is a key performance ambition, Arrival predictability is also considered key for the efficient management of airport resources. However, neither the SES performance scheme nor the ATM Masterplan, SESAR performance framework or the SESAR Validation Targets include arrival delay metrics, ambitions or targets. Measuring arrival delay is challenging, because of the difficulty of finding a valid reference (e.g. airline schedules often include buffers). Moreover, limiting the number of flights arriving outside a certain interval is more relevant than measurements of mean or variability, but the interval of interest may be different depending on the stakeholder (e.g. from the passenger perspective, arriving a few minutes early is not a problem, but early arrivals may disrupt airport operations). Improvements to the predictability of the in-block time may not only come from aircraft flying closer to their planned trajectory, but also from improvements in the planning that make it more realistic (e.g. planning that considers the SID or the STAR, planning that considers the statistical flight-time with usual DCTs…). Project working in this area must consider all stakeholders, and also consider how their proposed approach compares to the FAA’s fifteen-minute delay criterion (where aircraft arriving earlier than fifteen minutes after their scheduled time are considered to be on time). In order to cater for different stakeholder needs and priorities, multiple indicators and targets may be proposed and validated.

Application area 7: Further development of civil-military cooperation and coordination indicators

Civil military cooperation and cooperation indicators in the SESAR performance framework allow a limited assessment of the improvement of civil-military coordination concepts in terms of increased civil and military flight efficiency, as well as of the effectiveness of the coordination processes (by measuring the volume of reserved airspace that is not used) and the effectiveness of the process from the military mission perspective (for optimizing the ARES volume). There is a need to further develop these indicators, as well as to research into the interaction between the impact of the demand of reserved areas on the achievable flight efficiency. In addition, there is a need to understand the apportionment of SESAR ambition to increase flight efficiency between projects working on the improvement of civil-military coordination processes and projects working in other areas.

Application area 8: Development of flexibility metrics, ambitions and targets

The flexibility KPA has indicators aims at measuring the flexibility of the ATM system, e.g. measuring the delay for late-filing flights or flights which request a change over their original plan, or allocation of airspace reservation at short notice. There is a need to further develop flexibility metrics and targets. Research in this area should identify demands for flexibility among stakeholders, propose and validate relevant metrics and perform a preliminary benchmarking.

This list of potential application areas is not prescriptive; proposals addressing application areas beyond those listed above are welcome, provided adequate background and justification are provided in the proposal.

The objective of SESAR is to improve the performance of the ATM system. This topic is aimed at the development applications that improve the assessment and management of the performance of ATM in operations beyond what is already covered by the IR programme. The improvement of the assessment of the performance of ATM concepts during the full R&D cycle is also in scope.

The exploratory research challenge is to propose an improvement to the assessment or to the management of performance in ATM and undertake its initial validation. All proposals must consider how their proposed improvement relates to both the current SESAR Performance Framework and the SES performance scheme.

Improvements in the area of performance assessment, benchmarking and ambition/target setting and trade-off between indicators will enable an improved management of the performance of the ATM system in operations, and a better assessment of performance in R&D.