The major airports are increasingly capacity constrained, resulting in significant delays causing frustration and difficulties for both passengers and aircraft operators, and causing environmental problems. The compounded effects of more movements over longer periods of the day and night have increased the disturbance. This has fuelled the resistance of the population living near an airport against further expansion of the facility and its operations.
OPTIMAL was an air-ground cooperative project, which aimed at defining and validating innovative procedures for the approach and landing phases of aircraft and rotorcraft. The objective was to increase airport capacity and to reduce environmental impacts (noise and carbon footprints) while maintaining or even improving operational safety.
The work packages objectives were the following:
WP0: Project management & dissemination work package: this work-package consisted in managing the consortium and ensuring the reporting to the Commission and the technical coordination with the partners. In addition this work package ensured the dissemination activities.
WP1: Operational concept work package: this work-package elaborated the operational concepts for pilots and controllers so that target objectives in terms of capacity, safety and environment are met in the time frame 2010-2020. The qualitative benefits of selected approach and landing procedures were identified.
WP2: Procedures definition, development & design work package: this work package produced the design and the detailed specifications of the selected procedures and allocated the operational requirements to airborne (aircraft or rotorcraft) and to ground segments. After development of the generic procedures for aircraft and rotorcraft, some procedures for specific airports have been developed for tests purpose. In this WP, a specific study related to flight dynamics aspects of rotorcraft SNI operations has been carried out.
Aircraft (WP3), Rotorcraft (WP4) and Ground functions (WP5) developments: these three work-packages were conducted in parallel in order to implement the necessary airborne and ground functions to fly the new or improved approach procedures developed in WP2. Furthermore, where necessary, platforms were modified for the flight trials and for the manned simulations carried out in WP7.
WP6: The Validation & Conclusion: This work package prepared and coordinated the Validation Framework that guided the exercises. More specifically, it developed the validation strategy followed by the validation exercise plan, it conducted the analysis of the performance benefit assessment test results and elaborated the overall conclusion from all exercise results.
WP7: Exercise management & Support: in this WP, tests to assess the performances of the OPTIMAL procedures were carried out. The objective was twofold: it aimed at demonstrating the b
Two validation techniques were applied in the OPTIMAL validation process:
- Fast Time Techniques were suitable for a preliminary assessment of the benefits of a new concept in the ATM environment using a mathematical model to provide the results of the simulation and has rules defined to represent the relationship between the different actors of the validation scenario. They consisted in analytical studies applied for safety, environmental and economic assessments and Fast Time Simulation applied for the capacity assessments.
- Real Time Techniques were characterized by the presence of one or more subject matter expert as controllers or pilots that perform their operational tasks in a realistic real-time environment. Real time techniques are generally used for assessing the human factors aspects, but also to validate the interoperability between systems. In the OPTIMAL validation process, Real Time Simulation and Flight trials were applied as Real Time Techniques.
Two types of exercises ensured the consistency of the overall validation process:
- Benefit assessments assessed the benefits obtained from the implementation of the new procedures according to the high-level objectives capacity, environment and safety.
- Feasibility assessments evaluated specific functions for airborne and ground systems and include the validation of flyability requirements, operational requirements (both for pilot and controller), air-ground interoperability requirements and systems performance requirements.
The OPTIMAL project successfully ended on the 31st of October 2008. The following global conclusions can be drawn:
- All main activities in terms of studies, developments and tests defined in the initial contract were carried out in the frame of the project, albeit with a slight delay.
- All project objectives were met and OPTIMAL demonstrated that the studied procedures provide in general the expected benefits in terms of capacity, safety and/or environmental impact and that the procedures are feasible.
- The OPTIMAL results were disseminated during the whole duration of the project, especially through the successful final user forum in June 2008.
- All OPTIMAL partners acknowledge the very good and fruitful cooperation within the consortium and the management team thanks the 24 partners for their involvement and their cooperative spirit to meet the project objectives.
- To conclude, the OPTIMAL project delivered some validated, innovative concepts and promising results, which will certainly contribute to the SESAR JU and the implementation of the future European ATM system.
The work conducted during the project implementation ranged from the elaboration of the operational concept to simulations and pre-operational flight trials implying effective modifications of avionics onboard aircraft and rotorcraft and ground systems. On the ground system side special attention was placed on the new tools, which were necessary for Air Traffic Controller to efficiently and safely manage the OPTIMAL procedures.
The target time frame for the operational implementation of the OPTIMAL proposed procedures is 2010 and beyond. OPTIMAL has therefore delivered an important contribution to the targets for airport capacity development identified in the ATM +2000 Strategy.