A 4D trajectory for an aircraft adds the dimension of time to the existing three spatial dimensions. It takes advantage of cockpit and ground system integration to enhance predictability and efficiency of the air traffic flow. An aircraft’s trajectory can be given time constraints, typically at a waypoint, to better manage a traffic sequence (Controlled Time of Arrival or CTA). In addition, the task of achieving that time constraint can be delegated to the aircrew such that they may use the aircraft Flight Management System (FMS) to achieve the time constraint in the most efficient manner or in a way that is most optimal for their aircraft.
Think Research have been working on 4D trajectory concepts continuously since 2007, assessing the concept in medium density traffic environments as a tool for expanding the ATM planning horizon and reducing Terminal low-level holding.
Airport – Collaborative Decision Making (A-CDM) drives operational efficiencies both on the ground and in the air through the effective distribution of operational information in real time. It tackles head on, the problems generated when many operational units operate different information systems to support their function – without harmonising that information for the benefit of the entire operation.
In Europe, the concept aims to improve the accuracy of the Target Off-Block Time (TOBT) for each individual flight. The improved TOBT is facilitated through early notification of inbound flight delay as well as processes to check the consistency of flight plan and schedule information. The improved TOBT can then be used by stakeholders in the following way:
Ground Handlers / Airport Operators can better allocate resources against when each flight is likely to complete the turnaround cycle.
ATC can provide departure sequencing to minimise taxiway congestion (and resulting fuel burn) based on the improved stability of the pushback sequence.
The ATM network can better forecast sector demand and avoid unnecessary restrictions through real time updates of likely take off time of departing flights.
Our consultants have proven experience in the design and implementation of A-CDM systems. Furthermore, we are able to assist as independent advisors within the evaluation phase of any implementation, to include Cost Benefit Analysis and System Readiness Assessment.
As the skies become more crowded, and traditional methods of airspace resectorisation begin to offer diminishing returns, the Flexible Use Airspace is an important concept for the ATM industry, offering improved in efficiency, improved predictability and overall optimisation of airspace.
Through concepts and initiatives such as Dynamic Resectorisation and Functional Airspace Blocks, through user driven methods such as User Preferred Routing, Think Research has supported air navigation service providers and large, multi-national research programmes in concept clarification, concept development and concept validation.
Historically thought of as Flow Management, Network Operations takes in a more complete view of the overall performance of the air traffic system at a network level.
The future network operations will be built on simplified, flexible airspace structures and airport operations, user driven priorities, and aim to make use of optimal business/mission trajectories, reduce route length extensions and increase of capacity, and promote Free Route Airspace (FRA).
ATC sectors, reserved/restricted airspace, and airport infrastructures will be configured and managed to optimise network performance, and to provide Airspace Users with operational options balancing capacity with flight efficiency and mission effectiveness. Cooperative collaborative layered planning and decision making at local, FAB and network level, will align resources and minimise the adverse effect of the individual on network performance.
Performance Based Navigation (PBN) moves aviation away from traditional navigation methods (by ground based beacons and/or waypoints) to a system based on airborne technologies, utilising Area Navigation and Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS).
PBN defines performance requirements (accuracy, integrity, availability, continuity and functionality) for aircraft navigation on an ATS route, terminal procedure or in designated airspace. The RNP and RNAV concepts are examples of PBN navigation specifications. Think Research’s unique blend of ATCO, Pilot and analyst staff makes it an ideal partner in PBN projects. Think has been involved in RNP related projects including LPV approaches and Continuous Decent Approaches (CDA) as part of an Advanced APV project under SESAR P05.06.03 based at Bristol Airport.
The concepts of Arrival Management and Departure Management are not new yet few advanced systems are in implementation worldwide. As the more mature of the two concepts, various Arrival Managers (AMAN) have been brought into operation in recent years. However, the use of more advanced technologies and requirements for integration into extended systems has highlighted the need for further development of AMAN. In addition, the nuances, variants and benefits of Departure Managers (DMAN) are still being clarified. Finally, the coupling of the AMAN and DMAN now allows for a more integrated and collaborative approach to arrival and departure planning and queue management.
Think Research have led the validation of basic and advanced AMAN, DMAN and integrated AMAN/DMAN in workshops, simulations and live trials for 10 years on behalf of partners in Northern Europe, Central Europe and the Far East.
The Remote Provision of ATS is a revolutionary new concept changing the way service is delivered to aerodromes. An Air Traffic Control Officer (ATCO) or Aerodrome Flight Information Officer (AFISO) will no longer need to be located at the aerodrome to which they are supplying a service. Instead they will use a Remote Tower Module at a Remote Tower Centre located many miles away. Such centralised services will deliver greater efficiencies in equipment and staff utilisation, reducing the cost of providing air traffic services. Already in pre-operational development in Norway, Sweden and Australia, Think Research are the world’s foremost independent Remote Tower experts having been deeply involved in its development for the last five years and having written the benchmark, and award-winning, top level concept as well as local implementation concepts of operations.
Remote Tower – Asset Value – Article
Remote Tower – Virtual Vanguard – Air Traffic Management Magazine Article
Remote Tower Technologies and the Safety Nets of Tomorrow – Hindsight Magazine Article
The introduction of trajectory based systems has been shown to have had a significant impact on the separation management task. Trajectory prediction (TP) means that the controllers are provided with a more accurate picture of each aircraft on which to base their controlling decisions. Alongside TP are a set of Medium Term Conflict Detection (MTCD) tools which provide the controller with information and monitoring for predicted interactions between pairs of aircraft. Resolution Advisory (RA) tools allow the controller to probe decisions and see the outcome of those decisions before committing, therefore further reducing the risk of a potential loss of separation. Such systems have already been implemented in operational environments such as the London Area Control Centre, Swanwick, of which Think had significant involvement in the validation process. Think are also having continued involvement in the future developments of these systems, for example, extending the TP, MTCD and RA tools to support the Planner controller as well as the Tactical.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are un-crewed, tethered by radio control link and can be pre-programmed for flight operations out of line of sight and at high altitudes. These air vehicles still require a pilot, who rather than being seated in the aircraft itself is located in a control centre normally referred to as a Ground Control Station.
Unmanned Aircraft or Aerial Systems – UAS has now become the the preferred term for such aircraft, as UAS encompasses all aspects of deploying these aircraft and not just the platform itself.
Think Research has placed itself at the centre of the UK’s UAS capability, working with UAS providers and government agencies as the industry works towards full integration of UAS into the civil air traffic system.
Developing runway capacity at major airports is essential to airport growth, and in a constrained environment optimal runway utilisation can avoid peak delays and reduce airline costs.
Wake Turbulence separation concepts such as Time-Based Separation provide improved safety management of wake risk and provide landing rate improvements that are resilient to changing meteorological conditions, such as strong headwinds. Think staff have proven expertise in developing and validating new Wake Concepts including advanced controller tool support. Think Research analyse complex safety data such as LIDAR direct measure of Wake Vortex decay and transport to prove the safety of advanced wake concepts, or equally for improving the understanding of wake safety in current operations. Think is not just research, our technical capability is supporting the implementation of wake turbulence concepts worldwide today.
Wind Farm Developers must take a multitude of factors into account when assessing the viability of potential sites, one such factor is the resulting impact that the erection of large wind turbines has on the provision of ATM in the surrounding area. Primary Surveillance Radar (PSR) remains a crucial part of both civil and military ATM infrastructure; the relatively high tip-speeds and large radar-cross-section of modern power generating wind turbines can cause PSR returns indistinguishable from that of aircraft, classified as radar “clutter”. Planning permission may be denied to a site, based on the development’s potential to produce radar clutter which can adversely impact the safe provision of ATM.
Based on terrain shielding and electromagnetic wave propagation between site and a given radar, Think Research have developed mapping and assessment software which estimates the likelihood of clutter production and accordingly computes the maximum acceptable turbine tip heights across a given area. Our technical site assessment, expert contextual interpretation and potential mitigation advice services give developers the information they need to make decisions on the potential site’s prospects.