The European Commission has launched numerous initiatives to develop advanced concepts, assistance tools, technologies to support the planning and execution of air traffic management (ATM) tasks, and to cope with the high growth rates in air traffic demand. It is generally recognised that, before any implementation, it is necessary to assess the validity of these concepts, validate the specifications of the tools and to demonstrate the feasibility of the technologies. This work is particularly needed because all these advanced features will be developed in a distributed framework by different teams. The validation activities lead to a strong need for the use of testbeds.
The PATIO objective was to establish the provisions for setting up an experimental platform, including a testbed (composed of a core part, with core functions and middleware) and its environment (to prepare, configure and operate the platform). The goal was to support the tools integration and subsequent activities of the ATM authorities, industry and the R&D community, in the validation of advanced concepts, specification of assistance tools and demonstration of the feasibility of technologies.
The main results of the project were:
- a prototype foundation platform, built on a fine-grain architecture, providing the generic interfaces integration and ported on a client/server technology technical middleware;
- two PATIO platforms built on a unified architecture, both using a common infrastructure with the ability to integrate large background components.
Thanks to the high level of abstraction offered by the Application Programming Interface, the implementation of each component and its location, hardware and communication techniques may be hidden from other components. This allows individual components to be modified without having any repercussion on other components.
PATIO has provided a unified basis from which to evolve towards the future EATMS (European ATM system). The platform developed can serve other projects - it is flexible and modular, to enable the operation of different operational concepts, portable to enable widespread use at European level, and scalable to enable a wide range of experiments up to full-scale, which may be required to assess pre-operational tools.
From the industrial point of view, the PATIO platform will have an important role in the process of upgrading and developing operational ATM systems. It gives industry the possibility to consider operational requirements at an early stage of development and to investigate the most appropriate techniques for the integration of the Advanced Controller tools, with the operational European ATC (Air Traffic Control) system. This platform will therefore minimise the time, cost and risk for the integration of new tools into current systems.