In today’s fast-paced aviation industry combined with sustainability fundamental needs, optimising air traffic management is paramount to ensure safe and more efficient aircraft operations. The SESAR 3 JU HERON project aims to foster the deployment of a set of solutions able to mitigate CO2 emissions from air transport. The project’s objective is to develop meaningful and sustainable activities, including more efficient aircraft operations both in the air and on the ground, addressing all phases of flights.

Frédéric Rooseleer from EUROCONTROL, leading a set of demonstration exercises aptly named “Optimised Approaches”, answers our questions and shares his insights and expertise to shed light on the aim and plans within this field in the project.

The Optimised Approaches team

The seven Optimised Approaches exercises address various operational solutions. Within their ambit, distinct results are being pursued, with each outcome involving specific partners. For the Increased Second Glide Slope (ISGS) noise reduction procedures live trial at Brussels Airport (BRU), the responsibility lies with SKEYES and BAC. iGA, in close cooperation with DHMI and Turkish Airlines, leads the Optimised runway occupancy categorisation (ROCAT) spacing at Istanbul (IST). Meanwhile, the implementation of Improved traffic management on final approach with Optimised Runway Delivery (ORD) spacing markers including Active Winds Aloft Integrator module (AWALON) involves PANSA for Warsaw Approach ATS.

EUROCONTROL is supporting these various demonstrations with guidelines from the preceding SESAR IR project phases and with analytics. RNP-AR procedure will be designed for deployment by French DSNA at specific constrained French airport environments of Saint-Nazaire (in partnership with AIRBUS ATI) and Calvi (in partnership with CCI – Corsica Chamber of Commerce). Additionally, for the Descent Profile Optimizer (DPO) procedure, AIRBUS and EasyJet take the lead, showcasing the collective commitment of various stakeholders to advance the aviation industry towards a more sustainable and optimized future, while DFS and Lufthansa will demonstrate the use of Data analytics for TMA (Terminal Manoeuvring Area) Optimisation (assessing Frankfurt, Dusseldorf and Cologne TMAs).

Firstly, what achievements has your team accomplished in the last months?

Over the initial six months of the project, we already made a number of steps in various areas. Firstly, we have seen the start of the demo preparation, mostly through coordination workshops, reviewing reference material, refined scoping, and initial drafting inputs to the HERON Project Demonstration Exercise Plan. In addition, some initial studies for the various demo addressed in our exercise took place:

  • Brussels ISGS demo: traffic analysis and impact assessment of adapted wake turbulence minima; exchanges with aircraft manufacturers (AIRBUS, BOEING, EMBRAER) about expected refined noise abatement impact.
  • Istanbul ROCAT demo (change from ISGS): coordination with local Stakeholders on solution benefits for IST runway performance.
  • Warsaw ORD demo: development and review of EUROCONTROL Guidelines on ORD functional specification, as input or local ATC system specification.
  • Saint-Nazaire & Calvi RNP-AR procedure: initial assessment of RNP-AR procedure design options.
  • DPO function: scoping of DPO operational use with the participating Airlines.
  • German TMA optimisation by data analytics: evaluation of ALBATROSS outputs as well as area of further refinement.

What activities are currently underway in your working group, and what are the objectives behind them?

Our ongoing activities centre not only around drafting inputs for the Demo Plan, but also at advancing the scoping and initial operational and technical preparation and planning of each demo with the involved actors. The preparation of procedure design and live trials necessitates essential coordination, cooperation and information exchange among the participating organisations from Airports, ANSPs, Airlines, Industry and local Authorities, for achieving safe and successful operations.

Why is the work that you are carrying out important in the aviation field and for HERON?

These solutions directly or indirectly contribute to reducing the environmental impact of aviation. Specifically, the benefits include:

  • Reduced noise footprint near airports (ISGS & RNP-AR solutions).
  • Enhanced operational efficiency, by optimising runway use and reducing arrival delays and emissions (ROCAT & ORD solutions).
  • Increased flight fuel efficiency, and reduced emissions (RNP-AR, Descent Profile Optimizer, and TMA optimisation).

As a result, the demos will accelerate deployment maturity, promote market uptake, and advance the industry’s understanding of these solutions in realistic airport and flight operational environments.

In conclusion, what results do you expect from your WP in the near future?

The demos will take place between the second quarter of 2024 and the first quarter of 2025. Until December 2023, we will focus on the demo plan preparation, the initial procedure design, the benefit, safety, and HP assessment. Finally, a key aspect also concerns the engagement with operators and authorities to seek demo approval and regulatory acceptance.