The European Commission and Eurocontrol launched the 'industry-led' SESAR programme (Single European Sky Air traffic management Research) in April 2006, and Commissioner J. Barrot set the following goals:
- Safety: increase 10 times
- Capacity: increase 3 times
- ATM (Air Traffic Management) costs: reduce by 50%
- Environmental impact: reduce by 10%.
SESAR delivers its concept of operations covering strategic and tactical planning, ATC, airport and airspace user operations in 2007.
EP3 (Episode 3) was initiated by the European Commission to undertake a detailed first assessment of SESAR, validating the operational concept developed by it for medium-term deployment (2020).
The objective of Episode 3 was to begin to validate the Air Traffic Management operational concept developed by SESAR for medium term deployment. The emphasis was on obtaining a system level performance assessment of the concept's ability to meet the targets defined by SESAR.
EP3 assessed a significant part of the SESAR gate-to-gate operational ATM concept during a three-year period. It delivered validated Operational Services and Environment Definitions (OSEDs) together with associated performance justifications, to SESAR stakeholders. During its life cycle, these activities were fully integrated into the SESAR programme’s development phase (2007-2013), governed by the SESAR joint undertaking.
EP3's scientific and technical objectives were to:
- provide evidence that the SESAR operational concept is 'safe in principle', or otherwise;
- define a performance validation framework based on SESAR performance targets;
- provide evidence of the performance of the operational concept against these targets;
- provide evidence of the operational viability of the SESAR target concept, or otherwise;
- provide evidence of the technical viability of the SESAR target concept, or otherwise;
- consolidate and detail the SESAR operational concept in accordance with the assessment results.
The Episode 3 work was divided into three main areas:
- the project-wide validation strategy;
- the set of validation exercises based on this strategy; and
- the development of validation tools.
The work was structured against two main axes, the ATM scope and validation maturity. The ATM scope clusters the validation exercises into work packages according to the phase of flight with a transverse system view ensuring coherence. The validation maturity breaks the project plan into two cycles, the first 24 months focusing on exercises addressing generic issues and moving to local implementation issues in the final 18 months.
EP3 focused on the assessment by using ICAO key performance areas and the European Operational Concept Validation Process methodology. The project constructed validation areas that group the SESAR concept elements in accordance with its mode of operation to assess the expected benefits and its acceptability by human actors. Sequences of classical and innovative assessment tools were used, including:
- Expert groups providing initial qualitative assessment against selected KPA (Key Performance Areas) in relation to operability, safety and human factors whilst also developing validation scenarios;
- Gaming exercises providing human assessment of strategic decision-making processes feeding fast-time simulation and analytical modelling;
- Fast-time modelling performance assessment on KPA, and filtering scenarios and options to be evaluated by real-time simulation and trade-off activities;
- Real-time simulation providing qualitative operational assessments, valuable for developing the concept and building common understanding.
All assessments were consolidated in a top-level system model for trade-off and reporting, and a full assessment of the SESAR Concept of Operations was produced.
The operational and process assessments of the ConOps (Concept of Operations) for 2020 conducted by the project concluded that, overall, the operators, i.e. controllers, planners and pilots were positive about the new ways of working.
Although EP3 highlighted areas where more work was needed, the exercises raised no significant issues on the operational and process feasibility of the ConOps, concluding that, while it could be seen that the ConOps would have a positive impact on the SESAR Key Performance Area (KPA), the maturity of the overall concept and detailed understanding of the benefit mechanisms meant that the ECAC-wide assessments, performed in Safety and Efficiency, were able to demonstrate that relevant targets were met.
The experience of the validation work demonstrated that the task of measuring overall performance of an integrated concept is challenging.
The remit of Episode 3 did not include cost-effectiveness studies, and given the requirements for additional tools, systems and new actors, this should be a priority in further work.
The EP3 Project produced technical output and findings in five principal areas including:
- Development of the 2020 Concept Documentation, involving the structured analysis of the ConOps (Concept of Operations) and associated SESAR Definition Phase documentation. The documentation produced was the set of Detailed Operational Descriptions (DODs), providing a consensus understanding of the concept, and comprising 10 volumes, providing contextual information, a Lexicon and individual documents concerning various phases of flight and various ATM domains. In order to provide further details on how the concept worked, 14 Use Cases were elaborated.
- Collaborative Planning processes for Short and Medium-term Planning phases, identifying potential functionalities of the tools to support decision-making and exploration of alternative validation techniques, and thereby providing preliminary performance assessments for SESAR. Overall, the developed processes, implemented aspects of the Collaborative Network Planning concepts described in SESAR and resulted in positive indications on performance.
- Management of the trajectory En-route, providing Expert Groups, Gaming exercises, Fast-Time Simulation and Prototyping sessions to clarify the SESAR ConOps in the En-route phase of operations and to assess its operability. Studies indicated that the concept could provide positive contributions to capacity and predictability metrics, but given the maturity and scope of the exercises, it was not possible to provide quantitative data.
- Management of the RBT (Reference Business Trajectory) in the Terminal Area (TMA), through the performance of Fast-time simulations and a Prototyping exercise, and producing useful conclusions about airspace design e.g. relative positioning of merge points and metering points and the operability of the proposed procedures. The controllers involved were positive about the benefits of the proposed systems, but raised some issues, including situation awareness when the aircraft is following its RBT, particularly in relation to the speed profile of the aircraft.
- Performance Assessment of the proposed SESAR ConOps, including, the development of a Performance Framework and an initial performance assessment task, the former, providing a methodology for future assessment of the SESAR concept on a 2020 ECAC-wide basis allowing the aggregation of validation measurements of many different types, and the latter an ECAC-wide perform
Episode 3 took an integrated view of the SESAR ConOps and was the first EC funded project whose primary baseline was the SESAR definition phase documentation and results. As such, a high priority was placed on capturing lessons learnt in order to make this experience available to the SESAR Joint Undertaking. These were:
- Building an ATM process model was essential to produce the DODs (Detailed Operational Descriptions) by giving a common structure that was easy to understand.
- DODs were seen as a major outputs of EP3, and they allowed structuring the concept detailing activities. However they were not suitable as a document to support validation activities, for which Operational Scenarios and Storyboards were much more useful.
- More guidance must be provided in relation to the Concept Lifecyle Model, and especially on how to define concept maturity, how to select the appropriate validation tool, and the available validation techniques.
- A clear link between validation tools and concept maturity was demonstrated with expert groups and gaming exercises useful in the low maturity stages, whereas prototyping sessions and modelling can be used for more mature concept elements.
- The establishment of a performance framework must be better supported by validation: the representativeness of the validation data must be assessed to qualify the results, and all validation results must be reviewed by the team developing the performance framework.
- While producing the performance framework, influence diagrams were assessed, demonstrating how this technique may help in understanding how the concept would deliver improvements.