The complexity of European upper airspace regions, together with the expected traffic growth rate of 3-4%, will affect the performance of the European Air Traffic Management (ATM) system.
The seventh Performance Review Report states that in order to preserve good performance in terms of delays, effective capacity needs to grow at an annual rate consistent with traffic forecasts.
Capacity increases need to be carefully planned. To address this in the long term (2020+), SUPER-HIGHWAY develops an innovative airspace traffic structure based on the simplification of the route network around the major traffic flows.
The SUPER-HIGHWAY project aimed to develop an operationally-driven airspace traffic structure for high-density, high-complexity areas, based on the innovation of the operational framework rather that on the development of new technologies.
Emphasis was placed on obtaining the maximum synergies between locally available systems and the overall European framework, thus optimising the overall efficiency of the system.
The project proposed Performance Targets addressing operational improvements and user benefits, and then the implementation of technologies. In this manner the proposed objectives reflect the focus of the study:
- decrease the workload per aircraft;
- improve the situational awareness;
- ensure on-time performance.
The project focused on the assessment of the workload per aircraft, and of the situational awareness for both junctions and lanes. The assessments mainly address the effect of the new airspace structure on the controllers and these are performed on the two elements of the super highways (S-H): lanes and junctions.
The strategy to carry out the project objectives was based on two axes: the design of operational scenarios, and the assessment and exploitation of these operational scenarios through the use of fast-time and real-time simulations. The operational concept scenarios identify and describe the operations and activities related to the use of the S-H by the relevant actors. The operational scenarios also support the identification of the tools and technologies needed to implement the S-H.
The fast-time and real-time simulations allow identification of the potential benefits that could be accrued by the S-H and also its operability. Since the project focuses on the determination of the viability of the proposed organisation, the assessments address the effect of the new airspace structure on the controllers. The assessment was performed on the operational concept scenarios in the two main S-H elements: lanes and junctions.
For the planner controller the following aspects were considered:
- conflict search and resolution for future traffic;
- planning of entry/exit conditions;
- sector co-ordination.
For the executive controller the following aspects were considered:
- planning (as regards conflict solving);
- actual traffic conflict search;
- monitoring (deviations from flight track);
- implementation of solutions;
- handover procedures.
As a result of the assessment, the project included a list of initial requirements for the new support tools that might be necessary.
Following the stated technical principles and the development strategy, the project was organised into four technical work packages:
- operational concept scenario elaboration;
- benefits assessment;
- development of conclusions and recommendations; and
- exploitation and dissemination.
The Super-Highway is an airspace structure located in an area with complex, high-density traffic. It is defined by both its physical parameters (length, number and arrangement of lanes) and by the related set of procedures (e.g. entry/exit, crossing). The Super-Highway is expected to make assessments using fast- and real-time simulations, including the expected safety, capacity and efficiency benefits derived from its use.