Aircraft trajectory optimisation is crucial in aviation: it helps ensure that aircraft follow the most efficient and safe paths during their flights. By carefully designing these trajectories, aviation authorities can minimize fuel consumption, reduce emissions, and decrease the likelihood of delays. This process plays a key role in enhancing the overall efficiency and safety of air travel, benefiting both airlines and passengers alike.

In the HERON project, Giuseppe Acampora from EUROCONTROL leads a set of demonstration exercises called “Improved Trajectory Planning”. Within the scope of greener plannable trajectories tool improvements and concept, EUROCONTROL joints efforts with France’s air navigation service provider, Direction des Services de la Navigation Aérienne (DSNA), and the Polish Air Navigation Services Agency (PANSA).

Below, Giuseppe answers a set of questions that dive into the work of Work Package (WP) 2.4.

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

In recent months, our team has successfully achieved significant milestones, realised with the release of Network Manager 27.0 in May 2023:

  • Dynamic RAD improvements: we have made substantial enhancements to the Dynamic Route Availability Document (RAD), which is essential for air traffic management. These improvements enable more agile and efficient routing decisions, benefiting both airlines and passengers.
  • ASM scenarios improvements: our team has worked on enhancing Airspace Management (ASM) scenarios. This means that we have refined the way airspace is managed, ensuring smoother and more optimised air traffic flows, ultimately leading to reduced delays and a more efficient aviation system.
  • FF-ICE R1 fine-tuning improvements: FF-ICE, or Flexible Free Route – Initial Conformance, is a critical component of our work. We have fine-tuned and improved FF-ICE R1, making it more effective in facilitating the deployment of essential services required by CP1 (Controller-Pilot Data Link Communications – CPDLC Phase 1). This refinement strengthens our capabilities in supporting Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) and airspace users.
  • Notification to airspace users improvements: we have also improved how we inform airspace users, ensuring that information is conveyed more effectively and efficiently, and improving overall safety and operational procedures.

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

Currently, our team is actively engaged in coordinating efforts with our partners, specifically PANSA and DSNA. The primary objective of this coordination is to clarify our plans for the expected deliverables within WP 2.4.

Work Package 2.4 likely involves critical tasks and responsibilities, and by aligning our plans and objectives with our partners, we ensure a harmonious and efficient approach to achieving our project goals.

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

The work our team is conducting holds significant importance in the aviation sector and specifically for the HERON project. Here’s why:

  • The achieved improvements in our NM facilitate more dynamic processes within Air Traffic Management (ATM). This is crucial because it allows us to harness ATM opportunities for more efficient flight trajectories, starting at the planning stage. Ultimately, this benefits airlines, passengers, and the entire aviation ecosystem by reducing fuel consumption, emissions, and delays.
  • Collaborating with partners like PANSA and DSNA allows us to translate these improvements into practical solutions at the local level. By demonstrating the effectiveness of these enhancements in specific airport and airspace environments, we pave the way for broader adoption and implementation across Europe, contributing to a more integrated and efficient European aviation network.
  • The fine-tuning of FF-ICE R1 is significant as it ensures the implementation of essential services required by CP1. This, in turn, streamlines air traffic management processes and facilitates the necessary deployment by ANSPs and airspace users. It contributes to the overall modernization and harmonization of European air traffic management systems.

As a result of these efforts, our demonstrations will play a pivotal role in accelerating the maturity of deployment, promoting wider adoption in the market, and advancing the industry’s understanding of these solutions in real-world airport and flight operational environments.

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

We anticipate several key outcomes from our WP:

  • We aim to enhance awareness of the increased opportunities for more dynamic processes within air traffic management. This will lead to greater efficiency and optimization in flight trajectories and overall airspace management, benefiting all stakeholders in the aviation industry.
  • Additionally, we intend to promote the implementation of FF-ICE R1 in alignment with CP1 requirements. This will facilitate smoother and more standardized air traffic management procedures, ensuring that essential services are delivered consistently across the European aviation network.

In summary, our work is geared towards achieving tangible improvements in the aviation field, enhancing operational efficiency, reducing environmental impact, and advancing the industry’s capabilities.