CAMES: synchronising air traffic in real time

From 2000 to 2006, the EUROCONTROL Experimental Centre (EEC), in two major projects, developed concepts and tools which combined air traffic control and flow management in an optimal manner. Those projects were entitled FAM* and CAMES**.

In September 2000, EUROCONTROL commissioned an independent study with a view to improving air traffic control in Europe and making better use of European airspace capacity. Thanks to this study, the EUROCONTROL Experimental Centre was able to extend the scope of its investigation and coordinate its work with the Centre responsible for regulating the flow of aircraft in Europe, the Central Flow Management Unit (CFMU).

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Improving air traffic flow management

“In this context, we developed the Future ATFM*** Measures (FAM) concept in 2002. The idea was to improve, via a series of new measures, the traditional approach to air traffic flow management, which was based on regulation before take-off of aircraft which have to fly through an area of high-density traffic,” explains Franck Ballerini, Head of the Network Management Research Unit at the EEC.

This concept was based on the premise that the efficiency of the European ATFM system could be optimised by means of increased real-time cooperation between all parties involved in air traffic management. “The idea was to process in complete safety, during the performance of the flight, the traffic demand which had not been anticipated while the flight was being planned,” adds Roger Guerreau, who was in charge of the FAM project at the time. Thus delays on the ground or limited route changes for certain flights could make up the difference between ATFM planning and real-time air traffic control activity.

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International cooperation

In this light, the European CAMES** project proposed the development of procedures and tools to facilitate the synchronisation of these operations.

Managed by the EEC, it brought together between 2003 and 2006 a large number of parties involved in air traffic management, including French, Swiss, Spanish and Italian air traffic control service providers. “Together, we carried out two large-scale real-time simulations to test these new processes and tools. These were subsequently studied in real traffic conditions”; Roger Guerreau recalls. “The results revealed a positive impact on airspace safety thanks to a distribution of network demand and a reduction in traffic peaks. We had achieved our objective.”

* FAM:  Future Air Traffic Flow Management Measures

** CAMES: Cooperative ATM Measures for a European Single Sky

*** ATFM: Air Traffic Flow Management