On 17 June, the SESAR JU announced the winners of the 2021 Digital European Sky Awards, celebrating the best of research and innovation in air traffic management in Europe. The five winning projects were selected from a shortlist, following rigorous evaluation by a distinguished jury and a public vote. The awarded projects are emblematic of the work underway to deliver smarter and more sustainable air transport, across all three strands of research which make up the SESAR innovation pipeline.

The winners were announced during an award ceremony, attended by over 300 participants and featuring some opening words of support by European Commissioner, Adina-Ioana Vălean.

Opening speech

2021 Award Winners – by category

Exploratory research

The category recognised projects that pushed the limits of our knowledge of ATM and aviation, advancing new ideas and concepts, and applying innovative practices from other domains. 

The winning project, Resilient Synthetic Vision for Advanced Control Tower Air Navigation Service Provision (RETINA), showed how augmented reality can improve controllers' situational awareness. The project results have been fed into the SESAR Innovation Pipeline for further exploitation as part of SESAR project PJ.05.

Industrial research

The category recognised projects that have accelerated best-in-class solutions ready for industrialisation by the ATM community.

The winning project, Increased Runway and Airport Throughput (EARTH) - PJ.02-W1, focused on improving runway and airport throughput, considering wake vortex, weather, the environment and noise around the airport, for different levels of traffic demand, future aircraft capabilities and airport configurations.


The category recognised projects which have showcased the benefits of SESAR innovation in live operational contexts, helping to secure broader stakeholder buy-in.

The winning project, Initial trajectory information sharing (DIGITS) – PJ.31, demonstrated the benefits for ATM when the aircraft shares its complete predicted 4D trajectory (3D + time) with air traffic control services. DIGITS also allowed to fine tune the requirements for integration of aircraft trajectory data in the ground systems.


The category recognised projects offering multifaceted solutions to reducing ATM’s impact on the environment (noise and emissions), contributing towards making Europe the most environmentally-friendly sky to fly in the world. 

The winning project, Flying Air Traffic Management for the benefit of environment and climate - FlyATM4E, is developing a concept to identify climate-optimised aircraft trajectories, which enable a robust and eco-efficient reduction in aviation’s climate impact. Climate optimisation will consider CO2 and non-CO2 effects, such as contrails and contrail-cirrus, water vapour, NOx and particulate emissions.


The project recognised projects that delivered tangible solutions for the safe, efficient and secure integration of drones into European airspace, facilitating the overall growth of the European drone services market.

The winning project, Concept of Operation for EuRopean UTM Systems – CORUS, developed a concept of operations for drones in very low-level airspace, laying the groundwork for the implementation of U-space, and the safe and secure integration of drones.

Replay the ceremony

You can still read all candidates' projects descriptions in the various tabs hereunder or watch their teaser videos.