SESAR programme

The Single European Sky


The European sky is currently fragmented, managed and controlled by more than 60 control centres (the United States, with a similar monitoring surface, has only 20) which still follow the borders of the national states. This fragmentation is the cause of possible delays, pointlessly longer routes, wasted fuel and a higher production of CO2.


To solve this problem, almost twenty years ago, the European Commission began working on a programme to provide Europe with a modern and safe management system capable of handling the needs of the sector. Therefore, in 1999, the Single European Sky project was launched with the goal of improving the performance of Air Traffic Management (ATM) and Air Navigation Services (ANS) thanks to an improved and revamped integration of European airspace.


The advantages expected to come out of the initiative are enormous: around 2030-2035, with the Single European Sky, we will be able to handle traffic which is expected to double (source: Eurocontrol), cut ATM costs in half, improve safety and reduce the impact of air travel on the environment by 10 % with respect to the 2004 data.

The project entails subdividing airspace management, no longer as it is done today, based on territorial criteria, but in “functional blocks of airspace” in order to maximise efficiency of use. The end goal is to perform traffic control based on flight models that lead to greater safety, efficiency and capacity.


What is SESAR?


The Single European Sky aims to organise air traffic in the best possible way to make it more efficient, competitive, safe and less hazardous to the environment. Sesar (Single European Sky Air traffic management Research) is the enabler of this ambitious goal, because its task is to accelerate the reform of air navigation services and to identify the innovative technological elements that allow a new air traffic management system to be created.

The purpose of Sesar is to achieve the following results:

  1. developing systems for the reduction of air traffic management costs, fuel consumption, CO2 emissions and flight time;
  2. increasing the operational efficiency for airspace users, reducing delays and increasing the aircraft capacity, considering the fact that, at the current rate of air traffic growth, many European airports will be faced with problems of congestion.

The measures involve both the civilian and military sector and concern regulation, economy, safety, environment, technology and institutions. The programme anticipates a series of projects in which Italy currently participates playing a prominent role, along with airport management companies and national air transportation stakeholders.

ADR and the SESAR programme

ADR is involved in numerous projects which each anticipate an operational plan with tight deadlines.

The projects are the following:


ASMGCS – Advanced-Surface Movement Guidance and Control System aims to increase the level of airport safety by ensuring constant monitoring of vehicles and aircraft entering the manoeuvring area, reducing the possibility of collisions or incursions into dangerous areas. 

The project carried out by ADR involved the creation of an integrated ENAV-ADR system aimed at sharing and extending the monitoring capacity of aircraft and vehicles through the Multilateration and ADS-B system at Fiumicino airport. This integration allows the level of safety to be increased and is the prerequisite to supporting the future increase in airport capacity.

In particular, the following activities have been carried out:
• the integration of the Multilateration and ADS-B systems of ENAV and ADR through the sharing of the respective antennas already in their possession, with the installation of a further nine antennas, allows the extension of coverage of the entire airport area;
• the increase in vehicles entering the manoeuvring area equipped with ADS-B transponders and displays for greater situational awareness;
• the development by ADR of a new data presentation interface for the APOC control room and the relative mobile version for displays installed on board vehicles operating in the manoeuvring area;

The following safety benefits are achieved through this initiative:
•  More accurate detection of the position of vehicles (aircraft and vehicles) in the manoeuvring area.
•  Improved operational safety especially in poor weather and/or low visibility conditions.
• Reduced risk of collisions between aircraft and vehicles in the manoeuvring area, especially on occasions when visual contact cannot be maintained.
•  Reducing the risk of unauthorized access into the manoeuvring area.
•  Increased safety of operations in the manoeuvring area by means of alerts to operators involved in potentially dangerous or emergency situations

The following efficiency benefits have also been accrued:
•  Increase in airport capacity in case of adverse weather conditions (e.g. low visibility)
• Vehicle management optimisation in the manoeuvring area through visualisation on graphic interface of the real time traffic conditions at the airport


VDGS – Visual Docking Guidance System (Family 2.4.1 - A-SMGCS Routing and Planning Functions) with the end goal of increasing safety in docking operations in the aircraft stand, improving flight punctuality, making turnaround operations more efficient providing useful information on the tarmac to pilot and handler.

The project anticipates equipping the Fiumicino stands with a latest generation visual docking guidance system (VDGS) which will safely guide the pilot during entrance, exit and docking manoeuvres. Furthermore, it will be integrated with the airport database and supported by screens where useful information will be provided to pilots and handlers for flight preparation.

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AOP & APOC – Airport Operations Plan & Airport Operation Centre (Family 2.1.4 - Initial Airport Operational Plan (AOP), it's about an Airport Operation Centre (APOC) to combine all of the single Operation Centres currently in the airport into one space and to place the main airport stakeholders in contact. The centralisation of the centres allow communication and collaboration processes to be improved, including during emergency management.

The single Operation Centre has been supported by a new set of digital tools that facilitate management and planning of the airport resources and infrastructures that make up the future Airport Operational Plan (AOP). Software created that allow real time monitoring of the airport’s performance and replanning of the infrastructures based on the operational needs, simulating the impacts that this new planning have on the airport.

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SWIM – System Wide Information Management (Family 5.2.3 - Stakeholders SWIM PKI and Cybersecurity), which anticipates implementing firewall improvement initiatives for the continuous updating of the airport to comply with European standards in terms of cybersecurity and to realise an assessment study to upgrade ADR to the “SWIM” communication standard, a protocol defined on a European level to manage the exchange of data between the stakeholders involved in managing the airspace (ATM).


NOP – Network Operations Plan (Family 4.2.4 - AOP-NOP information sharing), which anticipates ADR’s participation in an international table coordinated by Eurocontrol to define the Airport Operational Plan (AOP) data of the airport and the exchange and integration methods with the central European Planning system. The goal is to implement communication between systems with a view to greater collaboration between European ATM centres.


Collaboration with INEA

The projects that ADR initiated in 2016 and 2017 obtained CEF (Connecting Europe Facility) financing, made available by the European Union Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA) for the implementation of the Single European Sky through projects which will bridge the technological gaps identified by the SESAR programme.

In particular, during the CEF 2016 calls for proposals, ADR obtained 43% financing for the two projects ASMGCS and VDGS and, during the CEF 2017 calls, ADR obtained 50% financing for the three projects AOP-APOC, SWIM and NOP. ADR’s participation in these calls took place in collaboration with other stakeholders including ENAV and other European management companies to manage the fascinating and demanding objective of the Single European Sky in an integrated way.