The efficient air transport

Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)


Outlook: Air traffic management becomes more efficient and resilient, minimises the environmental impact and enables higher passenger capacities.

Requirements: Ninety per cent of all passengers should be able to travel from door to door within Europe in less than four hours, and no flight should be delayed by more than one minute from the scheduled arrival time regardless of weather conditions. These goals have been set out in the European Commission’s "Flightpath 2050 - Europe’s Vision for Aviation". According to this vision, the European air transport system is expected to handle around 25 million flights per year of all types of aircraft by the middle of the 21st century. In addition to extremely efficient and flexible flight guidance, enhanced air traffic management will be required to enable 4D trajectories which are optimised in terms of route and time in order to achieve lower fuel consumption, improve punctuality, reduce environmental impact and lower operational costs. Around airports, people expect air traffic to be managed in an environmentally friendly way with reduced noise and pollutant emissions. DLR wants to prepare the air transport system to meet these future challenges.

Objective: New flight guidance tools for highly optimised operations will be developed by DLR. These tools need to be extremely robust against traffic disruptions and weather phenomena. They also need to be able to deal with the consequences of large-scale airspace restrictions, for instance, in the event of volcanic ash clouds, and ensure that air traffic does not grind to a halt for such reasons. One goal is to enhance partially and fully automatic computation of 4D aircraft trajectories. By means of this flight guidance tool, the time when an aircraft crosses a specific point on its calculated route can be determined to the exact second. New findings regarding environmental impact also need to be included and taken into account when a route is selected. In the future, air traffic management data and weather information will be jointly considered for optimised planning. Critical to this are reliable global weather forecasts for optimised cruising flights and accurate local forecasts for airports. These data together with other selected information supplied by the air navigation services will be provided to the aircraft concerned. New communication systems will form the basis for highly reliable information networks connecting airspace users and ground infrastructures to enhance the planning and operation of flights.

Besides technical aspects, human factors also play a crucial role. Safety in aviation is highly dependent on the capability and resilience of the people involved and how well they can adapt to future concepts and technologies. Therefore, humanmachine interaction systems need to be developed together with adapted training and selection processes.

Environmental factors will play an ever more important role at airports and in their vicinity. Noise abatement needs to be taken into account as another factor in the optimisation of routings besides fuel consumption and capacity. The aim here is to develop performance-related concepts to establish a noiseoptimised air traffic management system which will provide the required airport capacities. RNP (Required Navigation Performance) approach paths are used to guide air traffic around densely populated areas. Steep approaches and noise-optimised take-off profiles offer additional advantages to reduce the noise impact. At airports, too, there are further potentials to use available resources more efficiently. All procedures associated with the aircraft near or on the ground, such as approaches to land, taxiways, baggage transport and loading, need to be optimised. The challenge is to move as much as possible as fast as possible and in doing this using as little fuel as possible.

Last modified:
15/11/2017 11:31:03