Data Link Services - Recovering from delay in modernizing ATM communication in Europe


Fifteen months ago, the SESAR Deployment Manager (SDM) received a mandate from the European Commission’s DG MOVE to act as a DLS Implementation Project Manager. The mandate, was intended to recover from the fragmented and unsynchronized deployment of DLS in Europe, building on SDM technical expertise and its unique position as coordinator of the SESAR Deployment Framework Partnership, also requiring strong cooperation and coordination with the Network Manager (NM), EASA and EUROCAE.

In just 15 months, SDM was able to fulfill this role successfully. Several factors contributed to turning around the situation. First, the stakeholders required to implement DLS, under coordination of SDM, worked jointly in an unprecedented way, setting up 2 dedicated projects known as Path 1 and Path 2 (as per DLS Recovery Plan), respectively led by ENAIRE and ENAV. Secondly, NM, EASA and EUROCAE progressed in their respective domains, strengthening the regulatory and standardization frameworks whilst monitoring improvement of the operational performance of DLS. Finally, the Communication Service Providers, SITA and ARINC, fully involved within and outside the projects, stepped up their efforts upgrading the communication network as necessary to implement the multi-frequency where necessary.

As said before, the other mandated bodies played and are playing a key role as well, in particular:

  • NM established the DLS performance monitoring function (DPMF) and is constantly working on the performance monitoring, elaborating monthly reports and closely cooperating with the SDM to follow all the technical issues and next steps.

  • EASA worked in close cooperation with SDM during these months for the implementation of the DLS transitional solution, furthermore EASA has published the ToR for RMT.0524 on DLS and just started the RMT.0524 working group activities to provide the regulatory framework to address the DLS implementation issues and to support the DLS as enabler to PCP AF6.

  • EUROCAE worked on the current ED-92B standard in order to update it to include some identified needs. This standard is expected to be published before end of 2018. The work is still ongoing for the companion document that will consider relevant IOP aspects for the ground network and infrastructure domain. This standard developed in coordination with ETSI activities on this subject is expected to be published in 2019 (summer).


What was achieved in particular?

According to Commission’s Implementing Regulation (EU) No 2015/310, 5th of February 2018 is the deadline for the ATS providers to ensure that, within the relevant ATS units, the capability to provide the data link services is available.

In accordance to the DLS Recovery Plan, the SDM and all partners succeeded in achieving substantial progress of the deployment of the DLS transitional solution through a harmonized approach.

Moreover, the following achievements have been reached:

  • Increase of DLS performances, through an effective multifrequency upgrade, as demonstrated by Path I project and reported by NM:

    • Reduction of the Provider Abort (PA) rate (PA*100hours of services), with a significant decrease of approximately 67%, starting from July 2017 to November 2017, and this trend is continuing;

    • Decrease of the technical round trip delay[1] of approximately 43%, starting from July 2017 to November 2017, and this trend is continuing;

    • All these results have been obtained notwithstanding a slight increase of Aircraft using Datalink Services;

  • Close coordination and monitoring of the deployment status through continuous interactions with all stakeholders involved;

  • Clear assignment of roles and responsibilities in the DLS implementation, monitoring and end-to-end certification process definition;

  • Coordination of Stakeholders committed towards the implementation of the target solution as per mandate received, which allowed:

    • Consultation and support of a two-step approach, targeting the single Service Area definition;

    • Consultation and support of the technical requirements for the overall architecture definition;

    • Consultation and support of the intermediate step towards the target solution: the implementation of a single ATN ground network;

  • Definition of additional improvement elements for reaching a common proposal of transition towards the target solution;

  • Common identification of technical and non-technical elements that needed to be further investigated to ensure a successful Model D implementation;

  • Support to the process to set up the DLS Governance definition and establishment, as detailed in Path II project;

  • Coordination for the submission of a new candidate DLS implementation project in the framework of 2017 CEF Transport Calls with 22 contributors, which will:

    • investigate and solve technical and non-technical open points;

    • analyse and perform the preparatory activities for the implementation of the target Model.

All these achievements together put the DL Service provision in Europe on the right track. Clearly the mandate enabled SDM to cooperate with all necessary partners and lead all of them towards recovering from the previous fragmentation and lack of confidence.

The work is not finished yet, however the increased performances will produce growing benefits day after day for the European airlines and passengers.

[1] Technical round trip delay represents the delay between the time when a message is uplinked and its corresponding acknowledgment is received by the ground system