Managing Airspace Congestion

Aug. 30, 2012
Boeing has forecast a long-term demand of 34,000 new airplanes between now and 2030 and Bombardier has indicated 24,000 business jets deliveries by 2031 worldwide

The world urgently needs to upgrade its air traffic control systems, especially as rising incomes in the developing world allow millions of people to fly for the first time

By R. Chandrakanth

Aircraft deliveries in the next 20 years are going to be phenomenal. Boeing has forecast a long-term demand of 34,000 new airplanes between now and 2030 and Bombardier has indicated 24,000 business jets deliveries by 2031 worldwide. Then there are thousands of military aircraft, helicopters, freighters, unmanned aerial vehicles, etc. which will see exponential increase in their fleet. That's an awful lot of aircraft in the skies. And that means airspace congestion. Imagine Indian road traffic up in the sky and it could well spell disaster. If not regulated efficiently, it would also mean an awful lot of fuel burn, straining airlines/business jet operators further. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has noted that if an aircraft can save one minute of travel time, it would lead to annual savings of $3 billion for airlines on a worldwide basis.

NextGen to reduce ATF by 1.4 billion gallons.

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) estimates that increasing congestion in the air transportation system of the United States, if unaddressed, would cost the American economy $22 billion annually in lost economic activity by 2022. It also estimates that by 2018, next-gen will reduce aviation fuel consumption by 1.4 billion gallons, reduce emissions by 14 million tonnes and save $23 billion in costs.

This is possible, thanks to solutions/systems which come into play to ensure that aircraft are safely guided in the skies and on the ground. In aviation jargon it is called air traffic management (ATM).

The best way to handle the coming traffic squeeze is with the next-generation technology that allows for more efficient routes, states Dan Crowley, President of Raytheon's Network Centric Systems. "The air traffic system is already stressed at the current capacity. We know there will be a need for increased density in the skies, and therefore improved air traffic control."

ATC equipment market to touch $4 billion. Global Industry Analysts (GIA), Inc. has forecast that the global air traffic control equipment market is expected to reach $3.9 billion by 2017. Continued focus on establishment of new airports, modernisation of existing facilities and increasing focus on enhancing efficiency and reducing cost of air traffic control for airlines are all expected to drive future growth in the market.

Air traffic control equipment is one part of the air traffic management systems. ATM has a number of complementary systems such as airspace management; air traffic flow and capacity management (ATFCM) and air traffic control. All these come into play to keep aircraft movement not just safe and secure in the skies, but also improve efficiencies.

Airspace management. As aircraft fly through the sky, they follow pre-planned routes, much like motorways on the ground. Since air traffic levels have doubled in the last decade, airspace design must be continuously rethought, to provide the best and the shortest routes for the increasing number of flights. This is airspace management, an activity which includes airspace modelling and design.

Air traffic flow and capacity management.

Once air routes have been planned, the next step is to match the flights with the available capacity. This is an important step as only a certain number of flights can be safely handled at any one time by each air traffic controller.

Each aircraft, using ATC, files a flight plan and sends it to a central repository. All flight plans for flights are analysed and processed, against the available capacity, in order to make the best use of airspace slots. This is done by air traffic flow and capacity management.

World scenario. Across the globe, efforts are on to have unified systems that will manage air traffic with ease. In Europe, the Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR) programme is on; in the US it is the Next Generation (Next-Gen) Air Transportation System; in India it is the global positioning system (GPS) aided geo-augmented navigation system (GAGAN) and so on to regulate traffic in the skies and ground.

The current ATM system in Europe is fragmented which has impacted efficiency and added to the cost of flying. With over 40,000 flights a day predicted for 2020, the current ATM system cannot cope with this volume of traffic in an efficient manner, hence the efforts to put in place SESAR.

Next-Gen in US. The SESAR project has a parallel in the Next-Generation Air Transportation System project in the United States. The implementation across is happening in stages between 2012 and 2025. It proposes to transform America's air traffic control system from an ageing ground-based system to a satellite-based system. GPS technology will be used to shorten routes, save time and fuel, reduce traffic delays, increase capacity, and permit controllers to monitor and manage aircraft with greater safety margins. Planes will be able to fly closer together, take more direct routes and avoid delays caused by airport "stacking" as planes wait for an open runway.

Indian Scenario. There are nearly 450 airports and airstrips across the country with about 100-odd operational airports. All operational airports handled a total of 157.5 million passengers (118 million domestic and 39.5 million international) in 2011. The total number of aircraft movements amounted to 1.52 million and freight handled exceeded 2.3 million tonnes in 2011. The projections, according to CAPA-SITA are that "By 2020 airport traffic is expected to reach 450 million passengers, along with 6.5 million tonnes of cargo."

By 2020, India is expected to have a fleet of over 1,000 scheduled aircraft and about 2,000 general aviation aircraft.

With air traffic growing, GAGAN is a planned implementation of a regional satellite-based augmentation system (SBAS). It is a system to improve the accuracy of a GNSS receiver by providing reference signals. The AAI's efforts towards implementation of operational SBAS can be viewed as the first step towards introduction of modern communication, navigation, surveillance/ ATM system over Indian airspace.

India has, however, improved its ATM performance significantly in the past few years, particularly with respect to on-time performance for airlines. Major privately-run airports such as Mumbai and Delhi have become early adopters of new techniques and technologies such as RNAV and ADS-B.

Major Players. The major players in the global marketplace include Advanced Navigation & Positioning Corporation Inc; The Aeronav Group; BAE Systems Plc; Becker Avionics Inc.; C.N.S. Systems AB; Frequentis AG; Gallium Visual Systems Inc.; Harris Corporation; Indra Sistemas S.A; Lockheed Martin Corporation; Northrop Grumman Corporation; Raytheon Company; Siqura, Sierra Nevada Corporation; Telephonics Corp; and Thales Group.

Complete ATM capability from Raytheon. Raytheon designs, manufactures and services a full line of modern ATM systems and products for civil and military applications around the world. It is a world leader in providing modern open architecture air traffic management systems, GPS-based navigation and landing systems and modern solid state digital primary and secondary surveillance systems. In combination with Raytheon's role as a major ATM system integrator, its full range of products and services satisfies virtually any ATM requirement from a small airport system to a gate-to-gate National Air Traffic Management System.

Raytheon provides complete ATM capability, including ATM systems to control aircraft; develops precision landing systems to help land aircraft; and provides training and maintenance for ATM systems and air traffic controllers. No other company offers this breadth of equipment, systems integration, services, support and experience in ATM.

Raytheon's automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) equipment promises to bring air traffic control to many countries that could not afford it in the past. Unlike radar, which reflects beams of radio energy off planes to detect them, ADS-B allows planes to broadcast their own locations to controllers and other aircraft.

The ground receiver is small-about the size of a digital TV receiver- but it provides the same kind of display as a radar tower and rotating dish.

Harris pitches reliability and state-of-the-art

systems. For over two decades, Harris has continued to successfully design, develop, integrate, and install systems and services for the FAA's National Airspace System (NAS) in support of critical air traffic control operations and administrative functions. Harris has engineered some of the world's most reliable mission critical systems and is fully committed to the modernisation of worldwide communication systems. From large-scale systems integration to customised air traffic control products, Harris provides highly reliable, customised critical components for air traffic control systems worldwide. Harris solutions range from state-of-the-art communications to weather systems.

Harris is an industry leader in developing and integrating assured communication solutions supporting customers' mission critical operations. At any given moment, roughly 5,000 planes are in the skies above the United States-approximately 87,000 aircraft each day. Harris helps air traffic controllers, across the US and around the world, manage traffic safely and securely with state-of-the-art communications technology.

Harris' network infrastructure systems and services provide the heartbeat for NAS voice and data communications, 24x7, across the US and around the globe.

With capabilities in dissemination, processing and display systems; the weather and flight solutions can provide a single source solution for all the FAA weather and flight service needs.

Harris offers an innovative low altitude airspace management system for emergency and disaster response scenarios. The emergency management operations and control system (EMOCS) and low altitude traffic system (LATS) provide a total solution of communications, navigation, surveillance, and weather capabilities for first responders. Harris is also leading the way towards Next- Gen Towers with its Harris Remote Tower Solution that envisions a ground-level facility, fully automated or staffed, from which services will be provided for air traffic at remote airports.

Telephonics pegs on unparalled surveillance, tracking and flight information systems. Telephonics Corporation provides the expertise and advanced systems required for efficient and safe ATM. From planning stages through turnkey installation, Telephonics assists in providing technical support and system solutions to ensure smooth, secure and effectual air traffic flow at airports and control centres around the world. For over 40 years, Telephonics has been a leading supplier and systems integrator in the global CNS/ ATM marketplace.

Telephonics next-generation open architecture design features include:

* Advanced multi-sensor data processing

* Next-generation flight data processing

* High resolution situational displays

* User friendly, procedure-oriented operation

* Open standard architecture with integrated advanced features

* Scalable solutions for tower, terminal and en route applications

Telephonics also combines secondary surveillance radar (SSR) system background with its advanced military monopulse secondary surveillance radar (MSSR) technology to achieve superior target reporting for civil air traffic control (ATC) applications. Telephonics identification friend or foe (IFF) and SSR systems have been consistently providing military and civil air traffic controllers and battle management decision-makers with high performance systems that efficiently and safely direct traffic, increase mission effectiveness and keep friendly forces out of harm's way.

Telephonics systems are deployed on aircraft carriers and other surface vessels, on the world's fleet of AWACS aircraft, in maritime patrol fixed and rotary wing platforms, and in major air traffic centres throughout the United States, Asia and Central Europe, providing a cost-effective solution for meeting current and future air traffic needs.

Telephonics AeroTrac Next-Gen ATM System is an advanced en route and terminal automation system that features unparalleled surveillance capacity, tracking accuracy and flight information processing. Telephonics' AeroTrac Next-Gen has been proven in large scale ATC systems by tracking over 3,000 aircraft, simultaneously processing over 30 different sensors and covering over 23.3 million square kilometres of airspace.

The world urgently needs to upgrade its air traffic control systems, especially as rising incomes in the developing world allow millions of people to fly for the first time.

Copyright 2012 SP, distributed by Contify.comAll Rights Reserved