Single European Sky

With the volume of air traffic set to increase across Europe in the coming years; it is vital we have the communications infrastructure in place to suppose the exchange of data between Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs), Airports and the Military, as well as the Pan-European Network Manager (PENS). PENS is the common network service used primarily by ANSPs and Eurocontrol to share air traffic management data.

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NATS has played a major role in the SESAR R&D programme since 2009 working with colleagues from across Europe. We are now embarking on the next wave of collaborative R&D through SESAR 2020.

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It will be interesting to see how the RPAS industry evolves in the coming years and what regulatory framework emerges around “drones”. The UK government has set out an ambitious strategy that wants to see the full integration of unmanned and manned aircraft by 2020, so the next few years are sure to be very exciting.

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SESAR is showcasing its success stories in a number of critical areas, such as enabling greener aviation, increasing connectivity and mobility, advancing the digitalisation and virtualisation of ATM, and ensuring the safe integration of new types of aircraft, such as unmanned aircraft.

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This week Europe’s aviation community gather for the European Commission-sponsored Aerodays conference. It’s a major event that only takes place once every few years to develop innovative concepts and technologies that will help ensure the aviation can grow, safely and sustainably, and to discuss emerging issues.

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Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) or “drones” are now well established in the public consciousness. Safety agency EASA has launched a public consultation on their new regulatory framework, which will enable drone operators greater access to the airspace used by manned aviation.

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The CEOs of five of Europe’s largest airlines have recently come together to lobby the European Commission for reforms. One of the calls made by the CEOs was for the Commission to address the slow pace on delivering the Single European Sky.

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From sports such as Formula 1 using real-time data to analyse performance and devise strategy through to retail and loyalty cards using big data sets to provide better experiences and offers for their customers, getting your hands on good data and using it effectively is at the heart of many of today’s industries. Real-time big data is on its way to ATM and the sooner we can make it happen, the better.

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In 2011 the Spanish government decided that the time had come to open the national air traffic control sector up to competition in search of efficiency gains. New beginnings are always hard.

Now that more than 35 million passengers have passed through the airports whose air traffic is controlled by FerroNATS, and with management of over 500,000 flights under our belt, we barely have the time to look back and remember how it all started. But there was a beginning and getting from there to here required a lot of hard work. This blog looks back at the journey.

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Automation has a major role to play in the future of air traffic management. People are key to the success of any automation; how they design, monitor and maintain the systems and tools available to controllers, and how those tools are used. It’s something we’re dedicating a lot of attention to and I was pleased to be invited to discuss this at a recent Flight Safety Foundation Forum in Brussels.

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