On the surface, ‘digitalisation’ may sound like just another trending buzzword. Yet digitalisation is real and is radically changing the way we live and the way we travel. At the SESAR Joint
Undertaking, the technological pillar of the Single Europe Sky, we work with stakeholders in the aviation value chain to develop and deliver technology solutions to meet the passenger demand for smart, seamless and safe air travel. The world of aviation is changing.
Starting with the aircraft, which are set to become increasingly autonomous, connected, intelligent and diverse. And then there is traffic, which is projected to grow significantly, from several thousand conventional aircraft to hundreds of thousands of air vehicles (such as drones), operating in all types of airspace, including cities.
In addition, there are increasing demands from passengers for smart and personalised mobility options that allow them to travel seamlessly and without delay.
Digitalisation will be key in delivering this new era of smart air mobility, whether it’s through harnessing the Internet of Things, big data, advanced satellite navigation (EGNOS/Galileo), artificial intelligence or augmented reality.
With SESAR, we are embracing the technologies on offer to build an air traffic management system that can handle the growth and diversity of traffic safely and efficiently, while improving environmental performance by optimising trajectories.
One of the SESAR solutions that best reflects this are remote towers. Using the latest video and sensor technologies we have shown how air traffic in and out of airports, no matter where they are, can be managed safely from a distance.
Solutions such as these are enabling airports in the remotest parts of Europe to stay open for business and remain connected to the rest of the continent.
All of which are essential for the flow of capital, goods and services and critical for an interconnected European economy. In 2016, we delivered remote towers along with 60 other solutions, some of which have already been deployed.
Our research is ongoing, and we will continue to deliver more innovative solutions, in line with the EU’s milestone aviation strategy and in response to stakeholders’ needs both now and in the future.
Clearly, technology is disrupting how air traffic is managed. This can be seen with the growing numbers of drones taking to the sky. The industry has literally taken off in recent years, especially in urban areas, where a whole host of new services have cropped up.
Given the scale and complexity of the traffic, it’s safe to say that managing drones is not ‘business as usual’. That is why we support the European Commission’s U-space initiative, which aims to ensure that these drones are integrated safely and securely alongside manned aviation.
Our job is to deliver technologically-enabled services to manage these vehicles, including eTracking and registration, geofencing, as well as detect and avoid systems, among others. We aim to have a first set of services in place by 2019. And so begins a new era in smart air mobility.