Julian Moxon/PARIS

A key "free flight" element of Eurocontrol's ATM2000 air traffic management programme has been demonstrated.

The exercise was part of the Brussels-based agency's programme for harmonised air traffic management research (PHARE), which is designed to enable aircraft to fly preferred flight paths in the proposed future integrated ATM environment.

This will allow pilots flying through crowded European airspace to plan, modify and negotiate four-dimensional (position and time) trajectories using their onboard navigation displays, interchanging information with a ground-based ATM system database which carries out computer sequencing and separation.

Experimental four-dimensional flight management systems were installed on a Cessna Citation of the Netherlands' DLR research agency and on a BAC One-Eleven operated by the UK's Defence Evaluation and Research Agency.

The aircraft were linked, respectively, to air traffic control simulators at the NLR and France's CENA. They demonstrated that the equipment was capable of "predicting and accurately flying four-dimensional trajectories in real time, within a simulated integrated air/ground ATM system", says Eurocontrol.

The system uses Eurocontrol's highly interactive problem solver (HIPS) software, which enables in-flight trajectory editing to be carried out in real time. HIPS is being tested by the UK National Air Traffic Services at Hurn in the UK, and will be used for a test of free routing in upper airspace in August. The CENA has also completed a test of departure management into en route airspace.

Eurocontrol says response from airlines, airframe manufacturers and aviation authorities has been "very favourable".

Source: Flight International