Assessing the future performance of the ATM Network

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Every 5 year, The Challenges of Growth study assess long term traffic forecasts (i.e. 2035 or 2040 time horizon) and the means to mitigate the capacity challenge ahead. Future network operations are modelled using RNEST to look at the performance impact in particular regarding delays.

RNEST has the unique capability of modelling all possible causes of delay that might happen during the day of operations e.g. delays caused by passenger queues in the terminal, problems with the baggage system or the impact of flow management regulations and reactionary delays caused by late arrival of an aircraft from an earlier flight. The study highlights that any disturbance that might disrupt operational flows will put the network under extreme pressure.

The ATM Network in 2040 – our forecasts

Demonstrating the benefit of Short-term ATFCM measures

In the frame of the SESAR 1 project P13.02.03, a validation exercise assessed the performance benefit of using extensively Short-term ATFCM Measures (STAMs) over the ATM network instead of standard regulations for solving demand capacity imbalances. STAM are used to reduce the traffic complexity in order to keep the level of demand within capacity margins. Flow managers can manage imbalances between the expected traffic demand and the available airspace capacity (hotspots) by applying to a limited number of flights re-routing, flight level capping, ground delay, etc.

RNEST was used to model and demonstrate the benefits of STAMs over the European airspace. It was found out that around 40% of the regulations could be avoided. STAMs installed at the Top 10 delay producing ACCs in Europe has the potential to save app. 1 Mio Euro Delay Costs per Day. Considering the associated costs for flight level cap measures (i.e. extra fuel burnt) the cost benefit ratio for STAM measures would be in the order of 1:15.

Validating the SESAR Dynamic Airspace Configuration Concept

The Dynamic Airspace Configuration (DAC) concept allows sector design and airspace configuration dynamically adapted to predicted traffic patterns in a complex free route environment. DAC introduces Dynamic Mobile Areas (DMA) to support military operations while minimising the impact on civilian traffic.

In the frame of the SESAR 2020 project PJ08, RNEST was used to validate advanced DAC algorithms supporting automated sector design/configuration and DMA definition. The performance assessment was carried out on Milan ACC airspace, considering LIMM West and East sectors, separated and merged into one sector. The June 2018 traffic sample was selected, taking into account that Free Route operations were implemented on the Italian Airspace on December 2016, and then updated with STATFOR 2023 forecast.

Expected benefits

We expect improved air traffic control resource planning and use, as well as enhanced civil-military cooperation by fulfilling the capacity needs of both civil and military stakeholders. This ensures that the high safety levels are maintained and lessons our impact on the environment.

Giuseppe Esposito

Giuseppe Esposito

ENAV Milano FMP

“I used RNEST in the SESAR 2020 PJ08 EXE 8.1.1 for DAC (Dynamic Airspace Configuration) and DMA positioning in MILANO ACC area. The tool is on the right track in order to meet ANSPs different needs and to match AOs expectations of free route planning with a significant reduction of RAD and ATFCM measures in general while maintaining a good and balanced ATCOs workload.”

Adrian Fabio Bracero and Enrique Iglesias

Adrian Fabio Bracero and Enrique Iglesias

CRIDA ATM & Aerospace Engineers

“To ensure that the forecast growth in demand is accomplished, it is necessary to match capacity to traffic and ensure a maximum usability of airspace, which are the objectives of Dynamic Airspace Configuration developed by PJ08: Advanced Airspace Management. In this context, R-NEST allows us not just to propose an optimum operational opening scheme, as NEST does, but also to design the airspace from scratch, thereby ensuring a complete adaptation to the traffic taking into account local measures, through the customisable optimisation inputs. From my experience during the preparation of SESAR 2020 EXE 8.1.3, I can say that, on one hand, R-NEST has been the suitable tool to research on more flexible airspace design in Spanish ACC. On the other hand, I can affirm that R-NEST is in the right track to support the evolution of DAC operational concept.”

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