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Technical, economical and operational assessment of an ATM concept achievable from the year 2005

European Union
Complete with results
Project Acronym
STRIA Roadmaps
Network and traffic management systems (NTM)
Transport mode
Airborne icon
Transport policies
Societal/Economic issues


Background & Policy context

The current European Air Traffic Management (ATM) system is characterised by high fragmentation, a complex airspace structure and inhomogeneous levels of technical functionality. The resulting capacity and safety constraints contribute to significant delays and have a considerable impact on air travel as a whole. Long term R&D initiatives, such as Eurocontrol's EATMS concept or the ATM 2000+ strategy, target an operational ATM concept becoming fully active from the year 2015 on. To bridge the obvious gap in the implementation of advanced ATM systems and structures, the European Commission has initiated research on transitional solutions that could be implemented between 2005 and 2010, and that will be consistent with the long term strategy.


TORCH aimed to deliver a viable, consolidated operational concept for the year 2005, coherent and complementary to the ATM 2000+ strategy, by defining the CNS/ATM options for the concept through a set of scenarios. Technical, operational and economic assessments will use these scenarios to confirm the viability of the concept. (CNS - Communication, Navigation and Surveillance.)


The main objectives of TORCH have been:

  • to define precisely the operational, technical and economic activities that are performed by the CNS/ATM system actors both in the air and on the ground;
  • to assess the technological viability of the operational concept by
    • identifying the technological sub-system requirements and transition steps,
    • producing models and/or simulations of the technological products, and
    • producing a technical assessment of the viability of the technological products;
  • to assess the socio-economic and political viability of the operational concept by
    • producing cost estimates of each CNS/ATM option of the operational concept,
    • producing quantitative and qualitative benefit analysis estimates,
    • producing a socio-economic assessment of the viability of best and worst case scenarios relative to the base case, and
    • analysing the sensitivity of the socio-economic results to key parameters;
  • to identify the critical elements of each scenario, both economic and political.


Parent Programmes
Institution Type
Public institution
Institution Name
European Commission; Directorate-General for Energy and Transport (DG TREN; formerly DG VII)
Type of funding
Public (EU)


TORCH has developed an Operational Concept (OC) ready for implementation in the 2005-2010 timeframe that builds on two pillars:

  • a continuous layered planning process based on the more flexible use of available airspace and the tighter interaction and involvement of all actors, which will be achieved through
    • the elaboration and utilisation of Daily Operational Plans (DOP), that allow for monitoring of the relation between capacity and demand several months in advance, and
    • the use of Collaborative Planning and Decision-making (CDM), allowing the DOP to become a dynamic process relying on real-time information and data;
  • the process of re-planning and en-route flight planning in order to increase airport and airspace capacity through
    • the use of software tools such as the Traffic Load Analyser or the Medium Term Conflict Detection analysing precise real-time data, and
    • a shift of tasks and actors' roles in tactical flow planning leading to a reduction of traffic complexity in a given airspace sector, thus lowering the workload for air traffic controllers.

The feasibility and costs of the TORCH OC have been tested and positively assessed for technical, operational and socio-economic aspects.

Policy implications

Though the feasibility of the TORCH OC, targeting implementation from the year 2005 on, has been shown, further validation steps are necessary to prove the benefits of the entire concept. Air transport policy will need to support in-depth research work focussing on the conceptual development of (transitional) ATM systems, the refinement and elaboration of validation activities, and detailed cost/benefit analyses needed to support and accelerate the decision-making process for all stakeholders.


Lead Organisation
EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


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