The CNS/ATM (Communication, Navigation and Surveillance/Air Traffic Management) concept, adopted by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), envisages the use of datalink communications, satellite navigation systems and Automatic Dependent Surveillance (ADS) in the future provision of ATM. Today, a range of dissimilar CNS systems supports pilots and controllers in different phases of flight. The emergence of datalink services creates an opportunity to establish integrated, seamless gate-to-gate services, i.e. from the departure gate to docking at the arrival gate.
Work on international standardisation is ongoing for the Self-Organising Time Division Multiple Access (STDMA) technology, which has been developed to meet the requirements for a high-capacity datalink to support CNS systems. ICAO has adopted VDL (VHF Digital Link) Mode 4 as the designation for the STDMA technology when standardised for civil aviation.
The overall objective of NEAP was to investigate, specify, develop, test and evaluate datalink applications and services for civil aviation, based on the common STDMA/VDL Mode 4 technical platform. The focus of NEAP is on the following CNS domains:
- enhanced surveillance for Air Traffic Control (ATC);
- pilot situation awareness;
- GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) precision navigation capability for all phases of flight.
The following individual applications have been evaluated:
- GNSS precision navigation capability for en-route and approach;
- on ground situation awareness and taxi guidance;
- in flight situation awareness;
- enhanced ATC surveillance;
- automatic terminal information service broadcast;
- extended helicopter surveillance;
- runway incursion monitoring.
This has provided the basis for verifying the overall capability and suitability of the STDMA/VDL Mode 4 platform as a single system solution for seamless gate-to-gate operations across CNS domains.
Proposals have been made for improvements to the individual applications. The main recommendations at system level include:
- accelerating the introduction of ADS-Broadcast (ADS-B) in Europe, which calls for close co-operation with airframe and ATC airport system manufacturers;
- initiating extensive cost/benefit analyses and developing operational procedures with respect to ADS-B;
- analysing certification issues and promoting development of international standards for ADS-B;
- initiating research on human factors regarding cockpit layout of traffic information;
- analysing safety, certification and operational approval aspects of the use of a common datalink and a mix of CNS applications.
The individual NEAP applications show that cost-effective technical solutions exist for European and world-wide capacity and safety issues. However, these solutions are constrained by the lack of a coherent European regulatory framework that is needed to bring them to the market. Key recommendations are the development of European and international standards and certification strategies.
NEAP is based on European developments and technologies that are considered to be ahead of the rest of the world with respect to ADS-B. The list of aviation industries with a potential interest in the development is extensive, ranging from manufacturers to providers of communications, ATC services and training services. The NEAP activities will continue in the NUP (NEAN Update Programme), the follow up of the NEAN (North European ADS Broadcast Network) project. NUP aims to move from research and development to actual operational introduction.