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ADS Mediterranean Upgrade Programme

European Union
Complete with results
Geo-spatial type
Project Acronym
STRIA Roadmaps
Connected and automated transport (CAT)
Network and traffic management systems (NTM)
Transport mode
Airborne icon
Transport policies
Transport sectors
Passenger transport,
Freight transport


Background & Policy context

In partnership with European ATS providers and ATM Systems Manufacturing Industry the European Commission has promoted the development of emerging CNS / ATM technologies with the aim to solve the issues of perspective inefficiencies in the air transport domain of Europe. The ADS-MEDUP project represents such collaborative joint effort for the development and deployment of an ADS B infrastructure over a wide area around the Mediterranean allowing the test and validation of innovative applications based on satellite navigation and VDL Mode 4 data link technologies. This infrastructure includes base stations, a telecommunication network, experimental ATC systems with enhanced automation capabilities, interconnection with a number of existing Area Control Centres and adequately equipped aircraft. Coverage of the full area is ensured by 8 MEDUP Ground Stations (MGS) linked together through digital communication links.


The main objectives of ADS MEDUP were:

  • the establishment of an extended air-ground digital data link infrastructure (based on VDL-4);
  • the development of ADS-B and other ATM applications (enabled by the above data link);
  • the pre-operational flight testing of same;
  • the assessment of possible future benefits obtainable in the Mediterranean area.

A further role of ADS MEDUP was to provide the infrastructure for the Mediterranean Free Flight (MFF) Programme, which started in 2000 and was completed in 2005.


The ADS MEDUP Programme is split in three phases, namely:

Phase A1, with a duration of about one and half year, started in March 2000 and was completed at the end of 2002. It included:

  • initial studies, gathering of updated information, definition of operational scenarios, etc;
  • establishment of detailed operational requirements and specifications;
  • development of one prototype for the core applications, according to the specifications established;
  • laboratory testing of the prototype.

Phase A2, with a duration of about one and half year, partially interlaced with Phase A1 and was completed at the end of 2003. It included:

  • infrastructure development and their initial deployment (in three pilot sites, two in Italy and one in Spain and in two a/c, one in Italy and one in Spain);
  • pre-operational tests of limited scope and/or area (ground system tests and preliminary verification flights);
  • discussion of interim results and plans for Phase B.

Phase B, with a duration of about two years, partially interlaced with Phase A2, and was completed at the end of 2004. This phase included:

  • appropriate updating of scenarios and operational requirements;
  • completion of infrastructure deployment in the different States;
  • pre-operational tests in a wide area context (completion of verification flights, interconnection of ground nodes, interoperability tests);
  • demonstration flights, interviews to users (ATC Controllers and Pilots);
  • final report including proper considerations on operational benefits, safety, institutional issues, exploitation.


Parent Programmes
Institution Type
Public institution
Institution Name
European Commission, DG TREN (Energy and Transport)
Type of funding
Public (EU)


The VDL-4 network, composed of 8 Ground Stations, covers the major part of Western and Central Mediterranean. Two a/c have been equipped with VDL-4 Transponders and Cockpit Display Units. They have been used to perform technical verifications and pre-operational evaluations (about 85 flight hours). The interoperability within the various manufacturers of equipment and with the parallel NUP Programme has been tested successfully.

The performances of several data link services (mainly ADS-B, TIS-B, FIS-B and CPDLC) have been tested and evaluated in real airspace and some conclusions extracted for any potential further work, including possible indications for subsequent operational use. An outline of safety considerations (specific to ADS-B and Data Link) has been prepared together with preliminary economical consideration.

The exploitation plan takes into appropriate account the most indications on operational priorities (Package1 / Stream1 Applications) and on alternative data link technologies.

Technical Implications

Several lines have been envisaged.

A first line is to complete any outstanding technical investigation about performances of VDL-4 Data Link by using equipment that are compliant to recently finalized ETSI European Norms that have been developed under the CEC Mandate M/318.

A third line may be oriented towards a comprehensive study for the completion of Data Link Infrastructure over the Mediterranean Area, especially involving the States of the southern and eastern Mediterranean shores, as same States show strong increase of tourist traffic and, in general, need infrastructure increase with economical restrictions. Appropriate consideration should be given to the role of complementary surveillance enabled by ADS-B and to the possible substitution of SSR Radars to be decommissioned in the future.

Policy implications

A second line is of more operational character, including deeper pre-operational experimentation (with more extensive operator involvement) and taking into account the frame of the Single European Sky policy, in terms of interoperability and seamless operations, although within the specific traffic pattern and structure of Mediterranean Area.


Lead Organisation
EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


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