Far-reaching ideas aimed at solving air traffic management (ATM) problems posed by the huge growth in traffic predicted for beyond 2020 have been presented by members of an international working group meeting at Eurocontrol’s Paris research centre.

The Innovative Research Workshop bought together more than 200 ATM experts from all over the world in early December for the three-day meeting and was the first to welcome contributions from non-Eurocontrol partners. The meeting was held at the Eurocontrol Experimental Centre (EEC), whose deputy director for innovative research, Marc Bourgois, says the group is looking well beyond the current Single European Sky initiative to a “bottom-up approach” to stimulating new ideas for advancing ATM technology.

While the emphasis for ATM development is to find new ways of increasing capacity, Bourgois stresses that “maintaining safety is very much at the core of everyone’s thinking”. Discussions on ways of making airports function more efficiently include, for example, ideas for networking regional airports so that they work together more closely, helping avoid ATM bottlenecks. “There’s also a consensus to look beyond the airside,” says Bourgois. One suggestion is to locate runways and aircraft away from airport terminals, which would be connected by dedicated high-speed links.

A “virtual control tower” is another initiative, looking at ideas for using augmented and virtual reality technology to enhance the controller’s understanding of the outside situation.

“The view out of the window would be augmented with information presented on the window itself using an advanced type of head-up display technology”, says Bourgois. “We’re starting to see a lot of clever thinking on the virtual control tower concept.”

A new “call for ideas” will be issued in 2006 to universities, research institutions and other interested bodies and the resulting input reduced to six and then three main areas of research, which will attract around €500,000 ($590,000) of seed money, intended to put the projects onto a firmer footing.


Source: Flight International