Saturday, November 01, 2014
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Airbus takes Air Traffic Management to the fourth dimension

altThe world’s first flight using a four dimensional optimised and upgraded Air Traffic Management (ATM) technology has taken place with Airbus’ dedicated A320 test aircraft flying from Toulouse to Copenhagen and Stockholm. The project is called I-4D (Initial-4D).

The main benefits of I-4D are a significant reduction of fuel burn and C02 emissions, in line with SESAR*’s target to reduce the environmental impact per flight by ten percent, a decrease of delays and therefore shorter and smoother flights for passengers, Airbus says in a statement.

This flight test offers a concrete solution towards improving the existing European system which is reaching its capacity limit. It is a world premiere in the ongoing transformation of today’s air traffic management system.

Once proven and industrialised, it will allow aircraft to plan and fly an optimised and efficient profile without any need for the controllers to provide any vectoring instruction. This will bring better predictability of the traffic flows and facilitate Continuous Descent Operations into airports. As a result, aircraft flying in a holding pattern will be notably reduced, Airbus avers.

I-4D trajectory management relies on an aircraft function that predicts and transmits data to the ground enabling the aircraft to accurately fly a trajectory after coordination with the ground systems. This is called a 4D-trajectory as it is described in three dimensions (lateral, longitudinal and vertical) and it includes one target time at a specific merging point (time as the fourth dimension).

I-4D is the first step in developing one of the essential pillars of the SESAR programme: conciliating the increasing traffic density with the efficiency of flights. It is the result of several months of collaboration between SESAR partners. One of Airbus’ key roles has been to test the upgraded flight management (Navigation) and communication systems with each other and to integrate them into the real aircraft architecture. More flight trials and simulations are planned in 2012 and 2013. The first I-4D operation is planned in Europe from 2018 onwards.

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