Delegation visits France test site for New Generation Air Traffic Management System

Press Release

Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday, 10th January 2017 – Delegates from the European Commission (EC) and the Innovation and Network Executive Agency (INEA) have visited the Marseille Air Traffic Control Centre (ACC) in France, one of two sites testing the new generation air traffic control (ATC) system, 4-FLIGHT.

The delegation was accompanied by representatives of SESAR Deployment Manager (SDM), and the visit was hosted by the Direction des Services de la Navigation Aérienne (DSNA) and the Marseille ACC.

Over the last year, the Marseille centre exceeded one million controlled flights for the first time in its history. With 3,000,000 flights a year, France hosts the largest number of flights in Europe. The French air navigation service handled a total of 10,820 flights on 8th July 2016, setting a new record for daily air traffic in Europe.

The 4-FLIGHT programme, which is being co-financed by the European Union (EU), is designed in response to the high increase in air traffic in Europe, and features the core elements needed to modernise the French en-route air traffic management system. This new generation, stripless control system integrates the future Coflight flight data processing system, an interface (HMI) proposing innovative control tools, and the simulation environment for controller transitioning. Among expected benefits is an increase of around 10 per cent in overall capacity, as well as the enabling of DSNA to offer a higher quality and more competitive services to all aircraft operators.

Currently, the first operational version of 4-FLIGHT is under preparation in the two pilot-centres – the Marseille and Reims centres. Technical and operational evaluation sessions are being carried out. The first tests with live traffic will be held in January and March 2017 and development of subsequent versions of the programme will continue afterwards.

During the visit to Marseille ACC, delegates were led through a series of presentations, discussions, and guided through the 4-FLIGHT supervisory and simulation rooms.

Henrik Hololei, Director General, Mobility & Transport at European Commission, said: “Increasing the efficiency of the European ATM system is an objective that we can only achieve by coordinating the implementation of the various modernisation projects around Europe in a synchronised way. The 4-FLIGHT project, which is being implemented under the Commission’s SESAR Deployment Framework Partnership, is an essential building block for further modernisation of a Core European airspace, taking Europe one step closer to achieving the Single European Sky (SES).”

Dirk Beckers, INEA’s Director, said: “The 4-FLIGHT project, which is a core element for the modernisation of the French en-route air traffic management system, shows how EU investment brings direct benefits to the ATM network. We are looking forward to visiting more projects in 2017, as these visits clearly showcase the progress made thanks to the collaboration between INEA, SESAR Deployment Manager, and the implementing partners.”  

Maurice Georges, DSNA Chief Executive Officer (CEO), said: “An ambitious project like 4-FLIGHT, when it is cofinanced by INEA, benefits from a large credibility within the aviation community because these fundings help to accelerate its development and to secure its implementation in consistency with the common projects requested by SESAR Deployment Manager. I am convinced that 4-FLIGHT will provide a very high level of performance for our airspace users. Particularly, with this new-generation system, we will be able to implement Free Route and more widely the ‘User Preferred Route’ in a high density airspace.”

Massimo Garbini, Managing Director, SESAR Deployment Manager, said: “The implementation of 4-FLIGHT, the new operational system at DSNA’s Area Control Centers, fully compliant with SESAR requirements, represents a crucial milestone not only for French ATM but for the entire European network. SESAR Deployment Manager, by coordinating, monitoring, and synchronising such a strategic project, is showing its added value.”

This was the last the total of four visits in 2016 aimed to recognise concrete results from a timely and successful implementation of Pilot Common Project – six essential Air Traffic Management functionalities co-financed by the EC, to facilitate comprehensive and synchronised deployment. In the coming weeks, we will communicate on the upcoming project visits for 2017.