Interviews

picto great interviews

Dipl. Ing. Michael Finke, Project Coordinator

Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt e.V. (DLR), Institut für Flugführung German Aerospace Center | Institute of Flight Guidance | Controller Assistance

2020 Apr

"The GreAT project is an important step to counteract global warming and paves the way for a permanent supranational collaboration in this issue. Leading scientists and experts from Europe and China drive this project and draw a clear picture of what the possibilities of ATM are to reduce aviation’s emissions. We elaborate what needs to be done in detail to exhaust these possibilities to the limit. Comprehensive validation activities with high-end simulators and the involvement of external experts from the air traffic community underline the scientific professionalism and guarantee the objectivity of results. Together with our sister projects, we explore all what aviation can do to limit the climate change without restraining air mobility. I am happy and excited to be part of this development."

picto great interviews

Captain Tim ten Velde

Flight Operations SPL/NM KLM Royal Dutch Airlines

2020 Apr

"KLM is committed to minimize the impact of our activities by reducing our environmental footprint and protecting the environment beyond regulatory compliance. We strive to minimize the environmental risks that arise as a result of our operations. KLM also seeks to engage its customers with the new slogan: 'Fly Responsibly'. The 'GreAT' project will help airlines in general to reduce their emissions by developing new ATM structures and procedures. Together with partners in Europe and China, with Air Traffic Control specialists and Aerospace engineers, new options of Air Traffic Management will be explored and validated. We are excited to be part of this project and see it as an example where we take our responsibility to work on a sustainable future for all of us."

picto great interviews

Santiago Soley

CEO, PILDO LABS (Spain)

2020 Oct

❶ Your involvement is focused on tool development for arrival, departure and surface management integration and joint scheduling. Can you explain why and how these standalone solutions will minimize the environmental impact at both hub and medium-sized airports?

Aviation community is investing continuously on reducing the environmental footprint, in particular related to noise and emission affectations. Due to airspace capacity the level of improvements that could be expected at higher flight levels is well advanced, but still is considered to exist some room for improvements at lower levels and in particular in airport surroundings and arrivals. While initially the most evident solution for that would be to plan a kind of airspace restructuring, this might be not sufficient if the controllers and pilots do not have additional tools to best manage and optimize operations. As such, we believe that standalone solutions that might contribute to improve visibility on the on-going operations, better plan and advance certain in-flight situations that might contribute to reduce fuel consumption might also play an important role in the overall value chain. 


❷ Please illustrate the connections with past or running SESAR initiatives, in particular related to MergeStrip development? 

PildoLabs has previously coordinated different projects as in support to continuous descent and climb operations, in particular REACT and REACT+, developed as part of the SESAR Very Large Demonstrations programme. Through the participation of ANSP and airline operators from Czech Republic and Hungary, we have demonstrated the benefits that those types of operations can provide in reducing the fuel consumption experienced during the arrival and departure operations. While REACT was limited on improving airspace structure and current phraseology for better coordination between pilots and air traffic controllers, within REACT+, and thanks to Hungarocontrol, we demonstrated a new concept, so-called Mergestrip, providing additional tools to controllers to better predict and manage arrivals. In the frame of GreAT we are planning to research and develop additional functionalities to the controllers on MergeStrip concept, mostly related to data handling and artificial intelligence techniques. 


❸As far as the exploitation plan is concerned for each of the implemented solutions, what will be the top-level requirements to obtain a robust feasibility study of a real deployment of MergeStrip at LHBP? 

MergeStrip is expected to provide important benefits on the reduction of fuel consumption at LHBP. Even though it is considered that there is still some room for improvement on how to evolve the concept for a better predictability of the descent operations. For example, related to the time of arrival and others that could be modelled through machine learning algorithms. The possibility to compare the results obtained from GREAT proposed evolutions with current MergeStrip operations appears to be key for the possible implementation of the results in operations. Through access to Hungarocontrol’s Simulation Hub (simulationhub.hu), and fuel estimation tools developed by PildoLabs such as the Dailyfuel ® ©, the expected results could be consolidated in a simulation environment prior to actual deployment in real operations. 


❹ PildoLabs is impacted - as many other companies in the aviation sector - by the Covid-19 pandemic. In what way are your activities affected, and what will the repercussions on the GreAT project schedule be in your opinion? 

PildoLabs is a small company that keeps investing regularly on Research and Development for providing new services and products within the aviation domain. As small private players, in the middle of huge companies and Stakeholders mostly financed through Public funds, we are required to make it not only innovative but also in a more efficient manner, without disregarding quality of delivery. While we are certain the current crisis will not be easy to overcome, and certainly will directly or indirectly affect us, we also believe it might be a good opportunity for some Stakeholders to consider more efficient ways of doing things. It might be at the end that the actual panorama for us does not change majorly. We keep convincing people that there are other ways of doing things, and that is worth evaluating our advanced solutions and concepts. Our role will remain to be there, with a robust solution ready for and benefit from any single opportunity with passion upfront.

picto great interviews

Haoliang HU

Senior Engineer in Key Laboratory of ATM Avionics Technology, CARERI (China)

2020 Oct

❶ The pandemic certainly affected the project start but also more generally the aviation community. Can you describe the current mood in aviation research and industrial community in China and the main challenges for the project in the first nine months?

The Covid-19 epidemic situation has proved to be a huge strike to the global aviation community. In the first few months of 2020, the temporary lockout of aviation-related factories in China caused certain damages to product supply chains. The research activities in universities and research institutes had also been suspended for several weeks, though the impact was mitigated for researchers via homeworking and on-line meetings. Fortunately, thanks to the timely and effective measures taken by Chinese government, and persistent efforts of medical workers, currently the situation is basically under control in China. Most enterprises, research institutes and factories have returned to work by this summer. With the negative influence of Covid-19 fading away, the overall mood in aviation community has gradually recovered. However, as the global situation remains unoptimistic, GreAT project is still facing challenges. One of them is the obstacles in face-to-face communication between European and Chinese consortium, which is crucial to an international cooperation project like GreAT. Currently we use emails or online meetings as alternative way for bilateral exchanges, but when the situation permits, both teams need come together to discuss the project details.


❷ Besides the general involvement in the overall project, Chinese participants in GreAT have a specific interest on (airborne) avionics systems and related simulations. What is the motivation behind?

Avionics is always an important element in aviation industry. The technological progress of avionics pushes forward the development in ATM operational pattern to some extent. In the future air traffic operation, aircraft is becoming a key participant to realize smarter, safer, more efficient and greener flight. Next-generation air traffic operational concepts, such as 4DT-based Operation, A-SMGCS, CCO & CDO require close coordination between airborne avionic systems and ground ATM systems, which relies on technology development and capability organization of avionics towards future ATM operation. Based on this consideration, in order to support the research on greener long-haul/short-haul operation in GreAT project, Chinese participants have laid specific focus on airborne avionics systems and set a specific research activity. In this area, we are going to carry out research on greener avionics system architecture, flight management system, human-machine interface, GNSS and L-band digital communication system. Moreover, the Chinese consortium has a deep research background on avionics systems which is able to fulfil the related tasks in this project.


❸ International cooperation was particulary important with regard to the training sessions on the Concept of Greener Trajectory Based Operations. What were, according to you, the benefits of these sessions?

As we know, there are many differences in the airspace structures and ATM operational patterns between Europe and China. Due to few cooperation opportunities on ATM before, the European consortium lacks adequate knowledge about how ATM is organised in China, and vice versa. Therefore, in order to lay a solid foundation for the GreAT project, I think the training sessions organised on this topic are very important to this cooperation between the EU and China, especially at this moment, when mutual visits to ATM facilities are not feasible. In fact, through these sessions the research teams on both sides benefit a lot from learning much about the baseline and future ATM programs in Europe and China, which gives a good start for the next phase of the project. On the other hand, these sessions also strengthen the bilateral trust between the two consortiums which is one of the key factors to ensure the success of this project.

picto great interviews

Dr Lei Yang

Assistant Professor, College of Civil Aviation, Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics (People's Republic of China)

2021 Jun

Please explain how the collaboration with European partners helps to develop the new concept of Heterogeneous En-Route Airspace Management (HERAM).

With HungaroControl (HC) as an experienced work package leader, continuous exchange and iterative reviewing characterized the Chinese-European collaboration to develop the HERAM concept. Monthly meetings fostered a fruitful discussion.

The first step in the HERAM development process was to exchange materials and establish a common situation awareness. The European partners shared technical guidance documents and real-world operational regulations about the Flexible Use of Airspace (FUA) and Free Route Airspace (FRA). The Chinese partners presented the baseline of ATM operations.

Besides monitoring the work progress, the European partners provided good practices in developing the concept of operation from different perspectives, such as ATC, airlines, and research institutions. Their input was particularly helpful in analyzing the Flexible En-Route Airspace in West of China (FERA-WoC) – the core of HERAM –, notably concerning required airspace conditions, communication / navigation / surveillance capabilities, and improvement of ATC operations. When it came to writing the progress report, we appreciated the iterative reviewing approach because it promotes logical rigor and readability. We would like to thank all partners from HC, DLR, KLM, CIRA and L-up!

What are the main benefits of HERAM, and what are the bottlenecks?

FERA-WoC is the core of HERAM. Compared to conventionally structured en-route networks, FERA-WoC offers potential benefits for 4D trajectory selection and green air traffic operations. Specifically, on-demand combinations of modularized airspace elements (including sector entry and exit points, intermediate points, conditional routes, and free manoeuvring zones, which will be carefully designed by considering prevalent high-altitude wind, special-use airspace, and navaids, etc.), are used to supplement ATS routes to expand the feasible operation space and thus improve the flight flexibility and efficiency for aircraft with different onboard 4D capabilities.

However, the realization of the goals of FERA-WoC requires a more practical and flexible airspace use mechanism. In addition, it must focus on the uncertainty of the traffic structure caused by the expansion of spatial dimensions and its impact on the ATC workload. These concerns represent the main challenges for the implementation of FERA-WoC, while offering the opportunity to maximize its performance.

In your opinion, which time horizon seems reasonable for the implementation of HERAM?

Considering the time requirements for ATC automation, CNS and avionics upgrading, especially the process of structural reforming of the national air traffic management system, it seems reasonable to start the implementation of HERAM after 2025 as we may have a significant improvement in FUA.​

picto great interviews

Attila Barna Pásztor

Project Manager, HungaroControl

2021 Jun

What are the stakes involved integrating SESAR (Single European Sky ATM Research) and CAAMS (China's Civil Aviation ATM Modernization Strategy) strategies into the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) concept?

In the framework of GreAT, Chinese and European partners performed a detailed comparison of their ATM systems and future development programmes. The main findings are that both programs are aligned with ICAO Global Air Navigation Plan (GANP) and there are more commonalities than differences between them.

The comparison also identified shortcomings, and we can conclude that SESAR and CAAMS are dealing with similar issues while targeting similar solutions. The five key limiting factors on both sides are: non-optimal organization of airspace, limited use of data communication, limited automation in ATC provision, limited predictability of air traffic, limited information sharing and interoperability. More specifically, on the European side, the main challenges are the high airspace fragmentation, limitations in sharing the material available as well as human resources. On the Chinese side, the potential for an increase in flight efficiency, punctuality, and airspace capacity in general lies in the use of free routes and more flexible airspace restrictions and segregations.

Based on the findings of the European ATM Master Plan (2019), the GANP aligns well in vision, performance ambitions, structure, and technical content with the Master Plan and SESAR Solutions, and the latter has been and will be an active contributor to the ICAO GANP and the aviation system block upgrades (ASBUs). As far as CAAMS is concerned, a comparison with ICAO GANP concepts showed that CAAMS is in most cases in line with ICAO vision despite some differences mainly related to the cooperation between civil and military actors, Performance Based Service and TBO.

HungaroControl is involved in several other SESAR projects. How does GreAT fit into the project portfolio as a whole?

GreAT fits very well into HungaroControl’s SESAR project portfolio. Please allow me to mention two projects that deal with topics also covered by the versatile GreAT project. The first, PJ.10-W2-Sol73 Flight Centric ATC, is exploring the application of the FCA concept. The idea behind this concept is to dissolve sector boundaries and to have one controller in charge of a single flight to guide it through a large airspace. This way of traffic control does not change the basic responsibilities given to the controller, thus ensuring a conflict-free flight. This SESAR sub-solution addresses, in particular, the transition strategies from current operations to Flight Centric ATC and the assignment strategies of aircraft to controllers. This project, once implemented, can smoothly support our efforts carried out with regards to FRA and FUA.

The other project is PJ38-W3-ADSCENSIO. This VLD (Very Large-Scale Demonstration) will continue the work performed by the PEGASE and PJ.31-W2 DIGITS/DIGITS‐AU projects to demonstrate the ATM benefits from further usage of ADS‐C to reports, including EPP data that are downlinked from aircraft operating routine revenue (airline) flights across Europe to the ground systems. The objectives are threefold: First, to complete the progressive integration of more ADS‐C data in operational ground ATC systems; second, to derive deeper analysis of the associated operational benefits, and third, to demonstrate the feasibility of an efficient centralized capture and distribution of ADS‐C data to multiple ground consumers. One key expectation of this technical and operational solution is to reduce ATCO workload in high traffic conditions, thus enhancing airspace capacity. Another expectation of this project is the reduction of flight delays, fuel burn and CO2 emissions. The two latter objectives and expectations are similar to those of GREAT.

❸ Please outline the current aviation paradigm, specifically concerning fixed flight paths.

EUROCONTROL member states have decided to move away from fixed flight paths and committed themselves to the implementation of the Free Route Airspace (FRA) concept. FRA is one way of overcoming efficiency, capacity, and environmental challenges in aviation. Under the traditional concept, aircraft received direct routes, and there was no logical correlation between the fixed-route network and the actual path aircraft flew. Under FRA, flights remain subject to air traffic control, but it offers airline operators the option to choose their preferred flight plan. At the same time, it gives air traffic controllers the flexibility to handle the traffic tactically with the correct flight plans. FRA enables higher flight efficiency and has already brought substantial environmental benefits, as airspace users have been able to reduce their fuel consumption significantly, which resulted in important greenhouse gas emission reduction. However, it must be mentioned, that the closer we go to the core traffic areas of Europe, the more rigid regulations are implemented (level capping, prescribed route availability), which essentially distort the ideal route options, and fully ignore FRA concept as such. FRA can yield the most benefits when implemented together with the Flexible Use of Airspace concept, which is mandatory for EUROCONTROL member states since 2006. Finally, FRA paves the way for further enhanced airspace design and ATM operational concepts, e.g. Flight centric ATC as discussed in the previous question.

In 2015, HungaroControl became the first ANSP to implement the full, unrestricted H24 FRA concept called HUFRA (Hungarian Free-Route Airspace), which enabled airlines to operate their flights in Hungarian airspace on their preferred route of choice. In November 2019, both the Bulgarian and Romanian air navigation services joined this concept, and at the end of January this year, it was also used 24 hours a day in Slovakian airspace. Cumulatively, this has established one of Europe's largest, cross-border free-route airspace blocks, where air traffic controllers can plan and operate the most optimal flight routes for 1,300 kilometres. As part of SEE FRA (South-Eastern Europe), an innovative, modular concept was also proposed by the experts of HungaroControl, which makes the further expansion of the cooperation more efficient. This means that air traffic controllers can plan routes in neighbouring countries using only a few predefined navigation points with each other instead of enormous databases. Based on pre-COVID traffic figures, free-route airspace could potentially save millions of flight miles annually in South-Eastern Europe alone, resulting in tens of thousands of tonnes less fuel consumed and proportional emissions reductions. Moldova, Poland, and Lithuania are also scheduled to join SEE FRA in February 2022. This will allow flights to run freely from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea. The environmental results and the added value of the free-route airspace concept developed by HungaroControl have also been recognized by the European Quality Organization. The project, which is the national winner of the 2020 Quality Innovation Award, was selected as one of the leading developments in the international phase of the competition by a professional jury.

What are the biggest challenges ahead for Europe to meet the desired flexible airspace structure with the highest degree of freedom that enables the choice of preferred lateral and vertical flight path in day-to-day operations?

As EUROCONTROL1 established in the European ATM Master Plan (2019), the European ATM system is reaching its limits and becoming inadequate to address crucial European network issues. It is true that due to COVID-19, traffic fell dramatically, and it is only expected to pick up the pre-pandemic numbers around 2024 (best case scenario). It would come as no surprise at all if the pre-COVID symptoms persisted by then, namely: a) steady increase in conventional traffic, b) growing environmental concerns and c) the emergence of new entrants into the airspace. That’s why it is important to understand the limiting factors of the European ATM system, which are mainly the non-optimal organization of airspace (high fragmentation) and limitations in sharing all the available material and human resources.

GreAT basically deals with the former factor. We have already discussed the Free Route Airspace concept in the previous answer. In order to extend that a bit: FRA presents a paradigm shift from fixed ATS routes to free-route airspace for lateral movements. Nevertheless, its benefits can be further refined with regards to vertical movements as well.

The traditional system offers a basic vertical de-conflicting of flights flying from east to west and vice versa, similar to a basic lateral de-conflicting provided by traditional ATS routes. Aviation in Europe, with regard to vertical movement, is shifting to performance-based navigation, therefore the level allocation system shall be revised focusing on how it could provide more freedom.

There are three main challenges in this respect: first, the current airspace capacity should be maintained, as it is traditionally directly defined by the number of IFR levels available in the airspace; second, to guarantee vertical separation even when aircraft are flying at levels that are not a full multiple of 1000 ft / 300 m, and third, to support a slow, continuous and predictable climb / descent.

For more detailed information, please refer to our D2.1 Current TBO Concepts and Derivation of the Green Air Traffic Management Concepts.

1EUROCONTROL (2019). European ATM Master Plan: Digitalising Europe’s Aviation Infrastructure


picto great interviews

Jetta Keränen

GreAT Project Management Officer, L-up

2022 Apr

What are the main benefits of clustering between the sister projects GreAT, ACACIA, ClimOP and ALTERNATE in H2020?

A project cluster is a group of projects financed under the same call. GreAT, for example, is part of the ACGA cluster, which represents four projects funded under the H2020 call LC-MG-1-6-2019 “Aviation Operations Impact on Climate Change”. GreAT’s sister projects within the ACGA cluster are ACACIAClimOP and ALTERNATE.

None of the projects on its own can develop solutions to all issues addressed by the call. Therefore, cooperation between the sister projects in identified areas, and joint communication initiatives are really useful and ensure the compatibility of the improvements developed.

It is important to formulate a common message to explain how each sister project contributes in a complementary way to the expected outcomes and impacts of the call (in the case of the ACGA cluster, for example, to mitigate the impact of aviation on climate).

While working towards a common goal, clustering provides leverage to boost each project’s communication and dissemination actions in terms of quality and quantity.

What are the questions to ask and actions to take in clustering?

For a project cluster, it is important to identify (through brainstorming sessions) internal and external messages, i.e., the results of each project that are interesting to the sister projects and the messages the consortia want to jointly communicate outside of the projects. For the latter, the following questions must be asked: What are the common (global) messages to deliver? What are the target groups (audience)? And which communication channels and supports shall be used? Finally, it is crucial to establish clear responsibilities for each sister project and agree on the frequency and timing of actions.

Please give concrete examples of communication / dissemination actions and outputs for project clusters.

Sister projects can formulate common general messages in the format of opinion, white or policy papers, press releases, videos, leaflets, or short articles. Scientific outputs can be published through common scientific articles, common posters, on dedicated websites, or as contents for training courses.

A potential clustering communication / dissemination action can be the organisation of physical events, such as internal workshops, joint workshop sessions in conferences, cross-collaborations in mini-symposia, workshops with an external audience, or participation in standardization or other working groups.

Digital publication channels are ideal for clusters to demonstrate their joint complementary forces, be it websites, newsletters, webinars or social media platforms.

picto great interviews

Sigrun Matthes & Michael Finke

ACACIA & GreAT project coordinators, both DLR

2022 Apr

What are the scientific overlaps and/or common subjects of interest in GreAT & ACACIA?

ACACIA provides the scientific description and quantification of non-CO2 effects, especially effects that are subject to large uncertainties, such as the indirect effects of aerosols or nitrogen oxide-induced effects, which GreAT currently considers as unknown variables.

GreAT investigates how Air Traffic Management (ATM) can be enabled to guide air traffic along greener trajectories by considering dynamic effects at the tactical level, such as weather changes or other types of air traffic control measures that might be required due to unforeseen events. Together with the SESAR exploratory research project FlyATM4E, ACACIA will provide valuable input on how to avoid airspace regions that are particularly sensitive to aviation emissions, such as regions where strong warming contrails could form.

What specific topics will the projects address together?

The optimization strategies developed in GreAT are currently mainly based on CO2 effects, and ACACIA will allow the extension to non-CO2 effects as a topic for a sequel to GreAT.

ACACIA also investigates which meteorological conditions determine whether aviation emissions have a strong climate impact in specific regions, e.g., through contrail formation or NOx-induced ozone formation. This could be provided as a MET service tailored to the needs of trajectory optimization. Together we can work on best practices for describing this meteorological data service.

What are the next joint actions?

Well, to stay connected and closely follow each other’s developments and advances in scientific understanding in order to consider improved modelling of non-CO2 effects induced by aviation emissions. ACACIA plans to follow the evaluation campaigns of greener aircraft operations between Europe and China, and we want to take a closer look on how GreAT is using in-flight MET information updates.

DISCLAIMER

The information, statements and opinions in the above interviews are personal views from the individuals involved in the GreAT project, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the GreAT consortium as a whole, nor of the European Commission. None of them shall be liable for any use that may be made of the information contained herein.