Close to 8,000 delegates gathered at the airspace management industry’s annual global meeting in Madrid from 21-22 June for World ATM Congress 2022 where SESAR 3 JU participated in the Europe for Aviation stand and theatre. SESAR 3 JU experts led industry panels addressing performance improvements and showcased research and innovation aimed at delivering the Digital European Sky.

Among pioneering developments is the work taking place in the ALBATROSS very large-scale demonstration (VLD). It is looking at how to make more energy-efficient trajectories an everyday reality. The project has already brought optimised descent and climb operations to Paris airports that can reduce fuel use by up to 7% according to project lead Airbus, and Amsterdam Schiphol is on a pathway to zero emission taxi operations by 2030 with tests underway using autonomous tow trucks.

SESAR innovation was also featured in industry presentations explaining remote tower services, where research extends to single, multiple and hybrid applications, and audiences heard from SESAR partners about the first demonstrations in the embryonic urban air mobility sector. Sessions were also dedicated to emerging virtualisation services, where European standards are under development in parallel with early industry applications. Increased digitalisation is behind much of this growth, a common topic along with cyber security and artificial intelligence, all stemming from SESAR research and innovation.

Incoming SESAR 3 JU Executive Director, Andreas Boschen, pointed to the depth of knowledge and understanding encapsulated in SESAR research and innovation and its value for delivering smart and sustainable mobility in Europe. “We have all the tools we need to deliver the Digital European Sky and build greener and more resilient ATM. We have delivered more than 100 solutions so far with many already contributing to Europe’s Green Deal targets and our strong legal framework provides the foundational standards we need to succeed.” Boschen was speaking at a special panel examining Europe’s transition to a resilient and fully scalable ATM system capable of supporting a diverse range of manned and unmanned air vehicles in all classes of airspace.

The imminent arrival of Europe’s regulated U-space environment from 2023 brought many participants to sessions detailing SESAR 3 JU U-space development work – summarised in the SESAR 3 JU’s hot-off-the-press U-space results brochure. As U-space project consortia conclude two years’ development work, SESAR 3 JU prepares to embark on the next batch of research projects, which will support progress from U1 and U2 U-space to U3 and U4 services, supporting dense and complex operations, including urban air mobility and the interface with ATM.

The higher airspace (airspace approximately 60,000 ft) is no longer exclusive to space rockets and military planes. With missions varying from connectivity and surveillance to passenger transport and satellite services, these vehicles with vastly different operating characteristics present a new airspace management challenge. This new frontier was the subject of a dedicated session, which presented the work underway in SESAR within the context of the ECHO project to developa concept of operations for the higher airspace.

A busy press walking tour provided a hands-on dimension to dozens of SESAR Solutions on show, primarily targeting developments already making a difference to operations on the ground. The  walking tour included a new perspective on digital tower control through augmented reality goggles, a common civil-military airspace management coordination system, and results from a U-space very-large-scale demonstration, AMU-LED, showing which U-space services are needed for safe drone operations.

The sessions were enhanced by the SESAR Solutions Challenge, a whistle-stop trip around partner stands to uncover new concepts and solutions on show and collect stamps from each SESAR partner before returning to the Europe for Aviation stand to collect a reward.

Visitor access to visual displays and project information provided deep insight into a modern ATM environment enabled by SESAR research and innovation. Significantly, the concepts and technology on show set out many of the development pathways needed to create a more integrated, digitalised and greener airspace management environment.

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Watch interviews on sustainable aviation, U-space and higher airspace.