Without major improvements in the European air traffic management (ATM) operating environment, growth of air transport in Europe will be heavily constrained by traffic congestion and delays. Over the next 15-20 years, a key challenge will be to dramatically improve the use of the available capacity and to create additional capacity, thus reducing delays, whilst maintaining the overall safety of the system.
The Co-operative Air Traffic Management (C-ATM) project was tasked to contribute to the overall objective by addressing initial steps that are achievable within the current airspace organisation from 2012 onwards, integrated in a single and convergent plan, through a process that is innovative, but also moderated by a transition policy endorsed by the ANSPs and airlines taking part in the project.
The focus of the project was to define a coherent set of co-operative systems and processes optimising task distribution between air and ground actors, improving decision making through sharing of common data across the system, optimising system capacity through dynamic flow management and 4-D trajectory exchanges and contributing to a better situational awareness of air and ground actors.
This Project addressed both the airborne and ground segments of a collaborative ATM system, encompassing CNS/ATM concepts and capabilities such as ASAS procedures, 4-D FMS capabilities and trajectory planning, air-ground data-link, interoperability, System Wide Information Management, Advanced tools to support Separation Management, Flight Data processing and Flow Management and some initial Collaborative Decision Making applications.
C-ATM was originally defined as a five-year project targeting live trials in an operational environment. The project was structured in three consecutive phases and C-ATM phase 1 was launched in May 2004 for an initial duration of 18 months. The scope and structure of the overall project were later redefined in the light of SESAR and the objectives of C-ATM Phase 1 were revised to better match the needs of SESAR and thus provide a significant input to the SESAR definition phase.
These changes led to an amendment of the original contract and a three-month extension of the duration. The project was thereafter completed in January 2006, 21 months after project start.
The operational and technical baseline defined in C-ATM Phase 1 aimed at refining and assembling the most promising aspects of recent research, which to date have been developed and/or prototyped in a dispersed and independent manner through EATMP, EC and/or National programmes. A major challenge for this project was to integrate these elements into one overall, fully inter-operable and integrated air/ground concept of operation, ensuring both operational and technical coherency.
More specifically, success of C-ATM Phase 1 project was to be measured against the following objectives:
- definition of an operational concept;
- definition of the technical baseline for C-ATM;
- definition of complementary tasks for validation, certification and transition to operation;
- evaluation of models for the economic benefits of the system.
It is recognised that these represent the identified deliverables of C-ATM phase 1 only, which by reaching consensus within the framework of the project may already be considered a major achievement, taking into account the diversity of competences and interests within the project team . However, C-ATM is perceived as a major building block for the implementation of the Single European Sky and a stepping stone toward the 2020 vision, and therefore its success should also be measured by the contribution it makes in achieving this goal.
The project also aimed at Europe-wide endorsement of the operational concept, its supporting technology and feasibility assessment from representative airline operators, industries, service providers and professional bodies, i.e. IFATCA and IATA, with a target of 70% acceptance amongst these.
The approach taken to build the medium term concept of operations was to refine and assemble elements that had been developed by previous research projects in a dispersed manner. C-ATM Phase 1 did not invent radically new concepts but rather tried to identify key improvement areas and user needs and to build a workable concept that would meet the target improvement objectives by making best use of the most promising research elements available from previous research projects.
A very clear objective of the C-ATM Phase 1 project team was also to obtain the buy-in and endorsement of airspace users and key ATM actors in Europe on the medium term concept of operations, both within the project team and outside. A working together attitude was developed throughout the project to meet this objective within the team and many initiatives were taken to widen the circle, involve actors outside the project, create the conditions for fruitful debate and disseminate project results. This took various forms such as workshops, open events, presentations at ATM trade shows and events, participation in standardisation working groups.
A specific mention should be made of the C-ATM User Group which was set up by a group of air navigation service providers and Airlines alongside the project team. The C-ATM User Group operated as an independent body supported on a voluntary basis by its members, interfacing with the project team to provide concerted user inputs to the project and to react to material and orientations taken by the project. The User Group was strongly represented at the C-ATM Steering Board and was thereby allowed to take part in and influence project orientations and decisions
As defined in the contract, the success of C-ATM Phase 1 project was to be measured against the following objectives:
- a. - Definition of Operational Concept
- b. - Definition of the Technical Baseline for C-ATM
- c. - Definition of complementary tasks for validation, certification and transition to operation
- d. - Evaluation of models for the Economic Benefits of the system
Objective a. was fully achieved with the definition of the medium term concept of operations consisting of 4 deliverables
Objective b. was achieved with the definition of high-level specifications together with the Interoperability specifications and a high level architecture.
Objective c. was achieved with the development of:
- A preliminary validation plan for future validation activities to be undertaken outside the project;
- A certification basis document proposing a foundation for the end-to-end 'certification' process of the C-ATM concept;
- A set of two documents addressing the implementation and transition aspects both at a Europe-wide level and at the local/regional level of the participating Air Navigation Service Providers.
Objective d. was achieved with the evaluation of CBA models within the context of a preliminary assessment of the costs and benefits of the C-ATM concept of operations.
More generally the project can be seen as having pushed state-of-the-art one step further in several areas in particular:
- The articulation of a truly integrated concept of operations covering all phases from strategic planning to flight execution and post-flight analysis, combining the potential of promising operational improvements that had previously been researched independently;
- The refinement of concepts such as the Network Operations Plan, information sharing and Collaborative Decision Making principles applied in a C-ATM context;
- The refinement of 4-D trajectory exchange principles and collaborative flight management
- The compatibility between 4-D and ASAS and transition aspects between 4-D and ASAS in the TMA;
Collaborative teamwork bringing together all major ground and airborne actors of ATM (including airlines) to jointly address the challenges of ATM.
Successful interaction, beyond the project team, with an independently operating C-ATM User Group bringing together a wider community of airlines and air navigati
C-ATM has explored ground that will pave the way for SESAR and other future R&D initiatives in ATM.C-ATM has explored the limits in concept areas that will be utilised in future ATM development within the SESAR project context.