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Incentivising Technology Adoption for Accelerating Change in ATM

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ITACA (Incentivising Technology Adoption for Accelerating Change in ATM)

Reporting period: 2020-05-01 to 2021-04-30

Technological change in ATM has historically developed at a slow pace. The reasons are multiple: the very demanding safety requirements, the coordination effort required to harmonise standards around the world, the interdependencies between ground and airborne technologies, the monopolistic nature of air navigation service provision and the relatively small size of the global ATM market compared to other technology markets are among the factors that explain, at least in part, why ATM technological modernisation has traditionally followed a slow, evolutionary path. In recent years, the need to accelerate ATM technological change has become more and more evident: growing traffic demand and new market entrants, such as commercial drone applications, are rapidly taking the ATM system to its limits, calling for disruptive solutions able to boost the performance of ATM operations. Emerging technologies, especially digitalisation and automation, have the potential to facilitate this urgently needed technological upgrade. However, technology evolution is a necessary but not sufficient condition: innovation is a complex phenomenon, which depends not only on the development of new technologies, but also on the existence of regulation and institutions able to facilitate and foster the implementation of such technologies.

The ultimate goal of ITACA is to accelerate the development, adoption and deployment of new technologies in ATM. The specific objectives of the project are:
1. Identify the main drivers and barriers for technological change in ATM and devise a set of policy measures and regulatory changes with the potential to lower such barriers and incentivise faster technology upgrade.
2. Develop an agent-based model of the R&I lifecycle allowing the representation of the complex decisions and interactions between ATM stakeholders and their impact on the development and implementation of new technologies.
3. Validate the behavioural assumptions of the agent-based model through a set of participatory simulation experiments involving the direct participation of ATM stakeholders.
4. Demonstrate and evaluate the potential of the newly developed methods and tools through a set of policy assessment exercises that will analyse the impact of a variety of policies and regulatory changes aimed at accelerating technology change in ATM, with particular focus on the distributional effects of the proposed policies across ATM stakeholders and society at large.
5. Consolidate the methods, tools and lessons learnt delivered by the project into a coherent policy assessment framework and a set of policy recommendations, and provide guidelines for the future maintenance, evolution and use of the proposed framework.
During the first 12 months of the project (1 May 2020-1 May 2021), the work has focused on:
- producing the Project Management Plan and other relevant management documentation;
- conducting a qualitative and quantitative analysis of the levers and barriers for technology uptake in ATM;
- building a list of promising policies and regulatory measures;
- specifying the agent-based model that will be developed by the project;
- validating the assumptions of ITACA’s agent-based model through series of interviews with ATM experts;
- designing the analytical comparison framework between the experiment results and the agent-based model;
- defining the case studies that will be analysed in the simulation experiments

The management, communication and ethics deliverables produced during the first 12 months are listed hereafter:
- D1.1 Project Management Plan
- D1.2 Data Management Plan
- D6.1 Project Website (
- D6.2 Communication, Dissemination and Exploitation Plan
- D7.1 H - Requirement No. 3

One scientific-technical deliverable has also been produced. D2.1 Identification of levers and barriers for the adoption of new ATM technologies deals with: (i) the qualitative analysis of levers and barriers, comprising a literature review of previous use cases, a number of interviews with ATM experts and the insights obtained from a workshop with relevant stakeholders that took place in November 2020; (ii) an economic model to analyse the uptake of certain ATM technologies based on the potential efficiency gains by both ANSP and airlines; and (iii) the definition of a set of promising policy and regulatory measures based on both the initial qualitative assessment and the economic modelling.

The results of the economic modelling, qualitative assessment and the definition of the agent-based model have been submitted to relevant conferences in the ATM and economic fields.
The expected progress beyond the state-of-the-art includes: (i) the integrated modelling of stakeholder decision-making processes, validating the stakeholder behavioural assumptions in both standard economic modelling and agent-based modelling; and (ii) the validation of an agent-based model through gaming experiments.

After the first year of the project, ITACA has developed a set of economic models that integrate the objectives of the different stakeholders bearing the costs and the benefits of the investments in ATM technologies, taking into account the institutional and regulatory framework and the characteristics of the technologies. With the help of the assessment framework that is currently being developed, during the second half of the project ITACA will provide recommendations on how to facilitate technological change in ATM.

The project results are expected to have the following impacts:
- Better understanding of change and barriers for change in ATM.
- Acceleration of the deployment of new technologies better fitting stakeholder needs
- Acceleration of the achievement of the ATM Master Plan performance ambitions enabled by SESAR solutions.

Despite being of an eminently exploratory nature, the research activities proposed by ITACA entail significant innovation potential in several areas:
- New strategic decision support tools for policy assessment that can not only be of interest for the ATM sector, but also for other industries.
- New participatory methodologies for collaborative design involving ATM stakeholders.
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