The collaborative agreement between Skyguide, Skysoft-ATM, Airbus Commercial Aircraft and Airbus Defence & Space to integrate real-time operational aircraft data with advanced ATM simulation tools is giving Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR) experts highly accurate trajectory predictions as part of their work to research an improved 4D trajectory management concept, according to Damien Plaignaud, Airbus ATM Programme and Marie-Laure Glassey, Head of International Initiatives in Skyguide’s technical department.

SKYGUIDE : What will be the results of this research collaboration?
The results of this research will increase predictability of trajectories, reducing the need for capacity-buffers and improving the environmental performance of aircraft flying through European airspace. The pioneering agreement integrates the Airbus GENETICS aircraft operational data platform with the Skysoft-ATM SKYSIM simulation platform, to create a new research and development (R&D) platform called SKYTICS.



Integrating the RASIM platform developed for the Virtual Centre Tranche 2 (VCT2) programme, research into SKYTICS will allow us to perform our research and development (R&D) on a platform very close to the VC (Virtual Centre) operational system, shortening development and deployment timescales. At the start of the SESAR Wave 1 work we faced some challenges with the data we were using so the collaboration has helped us increase the accuracy of the data. SKYTICS will also help Skyguide to generate simulation scenarios which are much closer to real operations. It gives us real operational data to plot more accurate predicted trajectories and is one of the cornerstones of the SESAR Wave 2 PJ18 Project.



SKYTICS will integrate downlinked aircraft operational data and advanced controller pilot data link communications (CPDLC) clearances to simulate improved 4D trajectory management operations (trajectory management to improve predictability). For Skyguide and Skysoft-ATM, it means researchers and engineers have access to more representative flight data while Airbus can access real controller responses which are then used to mature the capabilities of the GENETICS platform, which simulates the data exchange between the aircraft’s flight management system and the flight data processing system.

How have the partners worked together?
DAMIEN PLAIGNAUD As part of the research (SESAR Very Large Demonstrator “DIGITS / DIGITS-AU”), Airbus has equipped close to 100 A320 aircraft flying regularly in European airspace with a FANS-C (“4D”) data-link capability. At the same time, Airbus Defence & Space has developed an advanced ATM environment simulator (GENETICS) able to simulate real-time trajectory data of 4D-equipped aircraft and integrate it within the advanced SKYSIM ATM simulator, so end-to-end operational scenarios can be accurately simulated. SKYTICS will then allow simulation of hybrid fleet operations with aircraft equipped, or not, with 4D datalink technology. It will provide a representative picture of how controllers could exploit better trajectory performance in terms of conformance monitoring, conflict detection and resolution. It will also allow identification of the key operational and environmental benefits of 4D trajectory management from an integrated ATM system perspective. This cooperation between Airbus Commercial Aircraft, Airbus Defence & Space, Skyguide and Skysoft-ATM paves the way to an acceleration of innovation and digitalisation of ATM, targeting the operational benefits expected from 4D Trajectory Based Operations.



What has the timeline for collaboration been and what are the future plans?

DP Research began during the Wave 1 stage of PJ18 and work started in 2017. A joint exercise completed and coordinated by Eurocontrol in late 2019 involved Skyguide, SkysoftATM and Airbus using the SKYSIM ROSE platform and Airbus aircraft simulators coupled with new software to develop highly realistic end-to-end scenarios. It was, for Airbus, one of the key achievements of SESAR 2020 Wave 1 and was a trigger to accelerate the collaboration between the four partners. Since the beginning of Wave 2, GENETICS has been an important enabler to help researchers better understand the environmental benefits expected from more predictable 4D trajectories. By using more accurate trajectory data, unnecessary buffers can be removed and tactical instructions given to an aircraft can be reduced, leaving it flying its most efficient trajectory. We can now look at this data not just from one aircraft at a time but we are also able to simulate 4D capable traffic at network level thanks to GENETICS advanced capabilities provided to SKYTICS. We are now looking forward to further improvements of GENETICS as part of SESAR 2020 Wave 2 and Wave 3, paving the way to wider cooperation with SESAR partners among which, of course, are Skyguide and Skysoft-ATM.


MG Skyguide and partner researchers are developing SKYTICS as part of SESAR Wave 2 (2020-2022) research to help validate more advanced trajectory predictions, with further and wider cooperation between the partners planned for potential SESAR Wave 3 work. Despite the financial and organisational pressures which Covid-19 has placed on all the project’s stakeholders, given the strategic importance of the research in delivering more efficient trajectories in European airspace, collaboration on the project continues to deepen. This platform will also be used to validate improved air-ground datalink future operating methods (such as CPDLC clearances in advance and route conformance checks), the Virtual Centre concept – in delegation of airspace studies – and potential new controller attention guidance research. In the longer term, the SKYTICS platform will be the basis for the next SESAR R&D phase and continue to be closely linked to VC future development.