For some years, the European Commission and Eurocontrol have been developing a major initiative to prevent the severe congestion of European airspace that could occur in the near future. Issues include:
- how to handle the growth in air traffic within the next 20 years;
- what concepts to implement;
- what operational changes to choose, and what consequences that would have on existing systems.
The various changes which could be imagined today do not all have the same level of performance in terms of their impact on airspace capacity, flight efficiency, safety, etc. Each change must be evaluated in terms of its benefits, costs and social impacts.
MAICA aimed to evaluate the consequences for global Air Traffic Management (ATM) performance, in terms of capacity, efficiency and safety of the various changes envisaged for air space management, Air Traffic Control (ATC), airports and aircraft operations. It has mainly addressed the medium and long term (i.e. 2005 and beyond), using ATM simulation tools.
MAICA addressed four new concepts:
- the autonomous aircraft;
- dynamic sectorisation;
- the future aviation surveillance system;
- the required navigational performance.
Four sets of simulations confirmed the operational benefits of the selected changes, providing a first quantitative assessment of their impacts on system capacity and efficiency, and validating their applicability to the European Civil Aviation Conference airspace.
The simulation results led to important recommendations on the implementation of these changes, and the identification of the main blocking points, which will have to be investigated in future studies to remove some uncertainties regarding the feasibility, acceptability and impact of new concepts. Moreover, MAICA has permitted the development and enhancement of simulation tools that will be useful for future studies. It has also enabled interfaces to be established between existing and new software to build genuine simulation chains, allowing complex phenomena to be studied.