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European Natural Airborne Disaster Information and Coordination System for Aviation

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - EUNADICS-AV (European Natural Airborne Disaster Information and Coordination System for Aviation)

Reporting period: 2018-04-01 to 2019-09-30

Aviation is a critical infrastructure of the 21st century. Even short interruptions cause economic damage summing up to the Billion-Euro range. As evident from the past, aviation shows certain vulnerability with regard to natural hazards. Safe flight operations, air traffic management and air traffic control is a shared responsibility of EUROCONTROL, national authorities, airlines and pilots. All stakeholders have one common goal, namely to warrant and maintain the safety of passengers and crew to enable an efficient air traffic. Hazardous events in the previous decade demonstrated that there is a significant gap in the Europe-wide availability of real time hazard monitoring information for airborne hazards describing “what, where, how much” in 3 dimensions, combined with a near real-time European data analysis and assimilation system. In practice, this gap creates clearly undesirable circumstances where various stakeholders in the system may base their decisions on different data and information. While the involvement of the private sector is and remains very important, there is a need to better define the interfaces between data and information that is publicly and openly available and the downstream and added-value products compiled by private entities.
The main objective of EUNADICS-AV (European Natural Airborne Disaster Information and Coordination System for Aviation) was to close this gap in data and information availability, enabling all stakeholders in the aviation system to obtain fast, coherent and consistent information.
EUNADICS-AV was subdivided into eight WPs with WP1 responsible for the entire project coordination, WP2 dealing with user requirements and sustainability activities, WP3 aiming at integration, harmonisation and thus enhancement of the expanding European observing capabilities for environmental airborne hazards (including the development of tailored products), WP4 with the integration and assimilation of tailored observational products integrated and assimilated into dispersion models, WP5 with hazard early warning capabilities, WP7 with the testing of the end-to-end EUNADICS-AV service chain, and finally WP8 with the dissemination and interface of results and data towards selected target groups e.g. via the EUNADICS-AV website (www.eunadics.eu) or the EUNADICS-AV data portal (www.data.eunadics.eu).
Integrating all project developments, a major highlight of EUNADICS-AV was the demonstration exercise in March 2019. During this international civil and military demonstration exercise all project objectives were tested within an end-to-end reaction chain setting (see Fig. 1). For this purpose, a fictitious eruption of the Etna volcano and a fictitious nuclear hazard scenario were simulated. Starting with the detection of the event and the issuing of EUNADICS-AV early warning products, concentration charts of the hazardous substances were produced applying ensemble techniques. These charts, providing an important basis for decision making in the aviation domain, were made available to various stakeholders present on-site. Finally, the concentration analysis data were integrated into flight trajectory simulation software used by airlines to plan their flights. Using a cost-based avoidance approach, the EUNADICS-AV data helped to re-route airplanes potentially affected by the hazardous event. The exercise also integrated data from a tracer release experiment conducted in September 2018 at two locations, one in Germany and the other in Austria. At these sites, tracer substances were released and subsequently measured/detected by aircrafts operated by DLR, the University of Duesseldorf and the Austrian Air Forces.
The demonstration exercise clearly showed the high potential of the EUNADICS-AV products, and their direct applicability and usability within already existing systems. Furthermore, the attendance of experts covering a variety of relevant fields, ranging from data specialists and modelers to flight simulators, airline dispatchers and aviation experts from both the civil and military side, provided a good opportunity to get to know each other, learning from each other and to discuss various needs and requirements coming up during a crisis. One of the major lessons learned was that a seamless integration of concentration data of hazardous substances into flight planning/trajectory optimization software would allow airlines to conduct most of the flights potentially affected by the hazardous events, to avoid flight cancellations and to minimize delays (compare Fig. 2). On the longer run, such a system would foster automated procedures of flight planning as well as air traffic management to maintain the flow also under adverse condition.
Building on this proof-of-concept and the attention raised for EUNADICS-AV and its relevant outcomes, intensive exploitation and dissemination activities took place in the final phase of the project. The project was presented at various international events. Scientific results of EUNADICS-AV were published in more than 50 scientific papers so far, and presented at conferences like the EGU general assembly where an own EUNADICS-AV session was organized two times. Two open science days were conducted, one at the EUNADICS-AV mid-term assembly in Rome and one at the final assembly in Toulouse. There was a collaboration and interaction with the EU COST action “inDUST”. A special issue is currently being set up in the Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences Journal (https://www.nat-hazards-earth
At the end of the project, EUNADICS-AV produced a catalogue of its results and products categorized along TRLs. Therefore, needs for further research, as well as areas where commercialization or operations within a public services domain can be soon commenced, are clearly identified. The EUNADICS-AV products can be subdivided into observational/measurement based products, model based products, early warning products as well as air traffic management/flight planning products. The latter products are clearly relevant for commercial exploitation. All these products and services are listed in more detail in project deliverable D10. Besides their high relevance for individual (scientific) disciplines, the merging of all components and services end-to-end showed the maximum benefit of the EUNADICS-AV concept. By seamlessly integrating tailored observations and data analysis/atmospheric transport modelling results into flight planning software as operated by all the airlines, it could be demonstrated that route optimization measures can be implemented effectively (demonstrated in Figures 2).
Figure 1: EUNADICS-AV demonstration exercise Salzburg 2019, reaction chain.
Figure 2: Example of a re-routed flight.