The skies over Europe are growing closer together
A flight through European airspace crosses borders without passengers noticing as the air navigation service providers involved work hand in hand. The technical systems are also becoming increasingly standardised, which is being ensured by a joint programme called SESAR.
The Single European Sky in Europe is increasingly becoming a reality. Today, air navigation service providers in the EU Member States have already harmonised their operational procedures across borders. Now, step by step, they are standardising and modernising the technical systems required to control air traffic. This purpose is being served thanks to a large-scale research and development programme called Single European Sky ATM Research, or SESAR for short, in which DFS is playing a major role.
Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR)
Air traffic in Europe has grown strongly in recent decades. This requires the use of modern and flexible systems, which also communicate with each other across national borders.
This is precisely where the SESAR European research programme comes in and is advancing the path to what is known as the Digital European Sky. A modern infrastructure enables direct routes and thus helps to reduce emissions. It also supports the change towards more environmental protection in aviation.
DFS has played a key role in the programme since its inception and is working together with other partners from the aviation industry to make transport smarter, more sustainable and more connected. Another aspect is to integrate other users, such as drones or air taxis, into airspace in addition to traditional aircraft.
The projects and their implementation are partly funded by the European Union. The funds come from the Horizon Europe Fund, which is earmarked for research and innovation, and the Connecting Europe Fund, the European Union's infrastructure funding pot.
DFS is currently involved in the following SESAR research projects:
Enhanced arrivals and departures
The project will implement solutions for arrivals and departures to improve efficiency, increase capacity and reduce carbon dioxide emissions at airports and the associated airspace. DFS is involved in this with the airports of Düsseldorf and Berlin.
Airport airside and runway throughput
In this project, DFS is investigating measures that are needed to introduce safety net concepts at airports. These will be reviewed with Düsseldorf Airport.
Digital technologies for tower
Here, DFS is investigating the extent to which an air traffic controller in a remote tower control centre can control not only one but several airports simultaneously. This could lead to more productivity and efficiency, especially for smaller airports.
Separation management and controller tools
This project's objective is to raise the amount of technological automation and develop processes for even greater efficiency, predictability and safety. DFS is leading the project and is particularly involved in the work on delegating air navigation services between control centres.
Enable RPAS insertion in controlled airspace
The project develops procedures and applications for the integration of drones into airspace. With the participation of DFS, the focus is on the conditions that must be met for this to happen.
Integrated communication, navigation and surveillance system
As part of the project, DFS is working on the further development of the satellite-based precision approach system GBAS, which is already in operation at Bremen and Frankfurt airports. The aim is to expand the range of applications.
As part of the project, DFS is working on improving the expected flight path, the so-called trajectory, in air traffic control systems. Data transmitted by the aircraft are taken into account. Among other things, the airborne and ground predictions are compared to better support the procedures of a continuous descent.
This project is about helping to shape the content of the European Air Traffic Management Master Plan for the digitisation of the European air traffic management (ATM) system. The plan provides strategic direction for the SESAR research programmes and plans the implementation of the innovations researched.
Demonstration of runway enhanced approaches made with satellite navigation
This project deals with satellite-based precision approaches in bad weather conditions at Frankfurt Airport. The focus is on how to increase runway capacity in this way.
The project deals with the development of virtual control centres that monitor different airspaces regardless of location. Within the project, DFS is working on cross-border solutions and contingency centres, which step in when a control centre experiences a failure.
Flexible ATCO endorsement and LDACS complement
In this project, DFS is working on the expanding digitisation and automation in the area of communication between aircraft and air navigation services:
ATM U-Space interface
Here, DFS is working on defining the interface between U-space, i.e. a defined airspace for unmanned aircraft systems, and air traffic control systems. The aim is to integrate drones safely into other air traffic.
Downlinking flight trajectory for improved ATM performance
In the project, DFS is testing trajectory-related technologies and demonstrating the resulting improvements for the work of air traffic controllers together with the partners. Extensive tests are being carried out for this purpose during real operations.