The first test flight in the European I-4D (Initial-4D) project—which uses a four-dimensional optimized and upgraded Air Traffic Management (ATM) technology—took place, with an Airbus A320 aircraft flying from Toulouse to Copenhagen and Stockholm.
The main benefits of I-4D are a reduction of fuel burn and C02 emissions, in line with SESAR’s (Single European Sky ATM Research) target to reduce the environmental impact per flight by 10%.
Once proven and deployed, I-4D will allow aircraft to plan and fly an optimized profile without any need for the controllers to provide vectoring instruction. This will bring better predictability of the traffic flows and facilitate Continuous Descent Operations into airports. (Earlier post.) As a result, aircraft flying in a holding pattern will be reduced.
I-4D trajectory management relies on an aircraft function that predicts and transmits data to the ground enabling the aircraft to accurately fly a trajectory after coordination with the ground systems. This is called a 4D-trajectory as it is described in three dimensions (lateral, longitudinal and vertical) and it includes one target time at a specific merging point (time as the fourth dimension).
I-4D is the first step in developing one of the essential pillars of the SESAR program: conciliating the increasing traffic density with the efficiency of flights. It is the result of several months of collaboration between SESAR partners.
Airbus has been testing the upgraded flight management (Navigation) and communication systems with each other and to integrate them into the real aircraft architecture. More flight trials and simulations are planned in 2012 and 2013. The first I-4D operation is planned in Europe from 2018 onwards.
Operational partners in I-4D are: Airbus, EUROCONTROL’s Maastricht Upper Area Control Centre (MUAC) and NORACON; ground industry partners are Indra and Thales ATM; and airborne industry partners are Honeywell, Thales Avionics and Airbus.
The SESAR joint undertaking is a public-private partnership created to provide improved control of the aircraft flying the skies of Europe, prevent crippling congestion and reduce the overall environmental impact of air transport. I4D is a project in this broad program to achieve the goals of SESAR.
Airbus is a major contributor to all activities, and is leading the aircraft work package that defines onboard solutions to meet operational improvement targets identified in the SESAR master plan.
NORACON is a consortium of eight air navigation service providers: Austro Control and the North European ANS Providers (NEAP); Avinor (Norway); EANS (Estonia); Finavia (Finland); IAA (Ireland); ISAVIA (Iceland); LFV (Sweden) and Naviair (DK). LFV and Naviair will participate in the I-4D flight trial.