Current and Future ATM Initiatives
Satellite based technology
Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) refers to the constellation of satellites which transmit positioning and timing data to earth. The Global Positioning System (GPS) is an example of a GNSS.
Australia is committed to the adoption of GNSS to enhance safety and efficiency in Australia's airspace, in line with ICAO Assembly Resolution A37–11. GNSS is used to support ADS-B, en route, terminal and non-precision approach navigation capability.
Satellite services are well suited to the Australian environment, with its large geographical area and low population density. Australia began adopting and implementing the use of GNSS in 1994, approving the use of GPS to assist in the navigation of Australia's vast airspace and continues to mandate measures which will harness the benefits of GNSS.
Australia mandated the installation of ADS-B Out by all Australian Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) regular public transport, charter and aerial work aircraft by February 2017 providing a significant improvement to surveillance for the vast majority of air passenger transport operations in Australia.
The benefits of ADS-B include:
- significantly improved surveillance coverage;
- voice reporting no longer required within ADS-B coverage;
- enabling more aircraft to operate safely in the same volume of airspace;
- greater flexibility in allocating preferred levels/altitudes;
- improved incident, emergency and search and rescue response; and
- the ability for organisations to efficiently track their aviation related assets and operations in real-time.
Additionally, ADS-B In (ADS-B reception by aircraft) can be used as a pilot situational awareness tool and enabler of new operations using airborne separation assurance/collision avoidance systems.
These initiatives will continue to move Australia away from a dependency on ground based surveillance infrastructure, however, a basic network of ground based navigation aids will form a back-up navigation network, which is intended to run until at least 2025.
Automatic Dependant Surveillance-Contract (ADS-C) is used in oceanic and remote continental en route airspace for automated position reporting and datalink communications. This has enabled reduced separation standards and user preferred routes for suitably equipped aircraft.
Throughout Australian airspace, passenger aircraft are now tracked by Airservices every 14 minutes using ADS-C, supporting global tracking. This can be increased to near real time if the aircraft deviates from its cleared route or as required by either the pilot or air traffic control.
Ground Based Augmentation System (GBAS) is a GNSS augmentation system. GBAS and its precision approach application, the GBAS Landing System (GLS), is recognised by ICAO as a potential future replacement for current instrument landing systems (ILS). GBAS systems have the potential to reduce flight delays and increase capacity in all weather conditions.
Australia participates in the International GBAS Working Group, which examines practical technical and implementation issues regarding use of the technology.
Airservices commenced GBAS operations at the Category I level at Sydney Airport in 2014 using a proprietary system called Honeywell SmartPath, which is the only GBAS system to receive US Federal Aviation Administration system design approval. Future GBAS work will focus on validating the operational benefits of the system and contributing to the development of Category III ICAO SARPs. Development of these SARPs will guide the specifications for developing and supporting Category III technology.
GBAS is expected to be commissioned at Melbourne Airport by mid-2017. Airservices will then consider extending the GBAS network to suitable airports around Australia, after undertaking cross-industry cost/benefit analyses.
Satellite Based Augmentation Systems (SBAS) augment GNSS in terms of accuracy, integrity, continuity and availability and can meet the operational requirements set by ICAO for the most critical phases of flight, particularly approach and landing operations.
On 17 January 2017, the Government announced that it will invest $12 million in a two-year program looking into the future of positioning technology in Australia. The program will test SBAS technology and Geoscience Australia (GA) with the Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Information, have called for organisations from a range of industries, including aviation, to participate in the test-bed.
Further information on the SBAS test-bed project can be found on Geoscience Australia's website at www.ga.gov.au.
Performance Based Navigation—PBN
ICAO has indicated that PBN implementation should be the highest priority for air navigation as published in the GANP.
Australia is transitioning from route navigation based on terrestrial navigation aides to area navigation based on GNSS as the enabling technology and ICAO PBN as the regulatory framework. PBN defines aircraft navigation requirements in terms of the accuracy, integrity, continuity and functionality required for the proposed operations. PBN improves safety and facilitates the planning of and operations on optimal flight routes.
PBN is used for all phases of flight, including en route, terminal, non-precision approach, approach with vertical guidance (APV), instrument procedure design, and is the basis for new air traffic separation standards. CASA and Airservices will continue to implement airspace and procedure design to facilitate maximum use of PBN.
PBN encompasses two broad area navigation families: area navigation (RNAV) and required navigation performance (RNP).
RNP navigation specifications require on-board performance monitoring and alerting, whereas the RNAV specifications do not; rather performance is monitored with radar.
Consistent with the Australian PBN Implementation Plan, the standard navigation specifications to be progressively implemented are:
- Oceanic en route—RNP 4 where capable, otherwise RNAV 10/RNP 10
- Continental en route—RNP 2
- Terminal instrument flight procedures (SID and STAR)—RNP 1
- Non-precision approach operations—RNP APCH
ICAO is currently developing SARPs for future RNP applications in all phases of flight and it is expected further benefits will be realised as the international aviation community adopts them.
The following diagram shows the various phases and components of PBN.
Figure 2: CASA—What is performance based navigation (PBN)?
Further information on PBN can be found on CASA's website at www.casa.gov.au.
Approach with Vertical Guidance—APV
APVs are instrument approach procedures which provide continuous lateral and vertical guidance. The introduction of APV has been identified by the ICAO as a significant measure to reducing accidents involving Controlled Flight into Terrain (CFIT) for all ICAO States.
One of the means of achieving APV is through the implementation of Barometric Vertical Navigation (Baro-VNAV) approach procedures. The policy on the rollout of Baro-VNAV approach procedures in Australia has been finalised and is available on the Department's website at www.infrastructure.gov.au/aviation/atmpolicy/baro-vnav.aspx.
Airservices, in coordination with CASA, has also published a list of more than 100 initial candidate aerodromes. Other locations are also identified for implementation of Baro-VNAV procedures subject to final confirmation that these meet the necessary requirements for supporting Baro-VNAV procedures. Airservices will regularly update the aerodromes list available on its website to report on progress with the rollout of Baro-VNAV procedures at www.airservicesaustralia.com/projects/implementation-of-approaches-with-vertical-guidance.
Off Air Route Operations
Off air route operations allow aircraft to fly more efficient routes, rather than along fixed lines. Airservices continues to implement FlexTracks and User-Preferred Routes (UPRs).
FlexTracks are routes between specific city pairs, published daily by Airservices. They are designed with regard for forecast wind conditions and to maximise aircraft fuel efficiency.
A UPR is a track generated by an Aircraft Operator for a specific flight to take advantage of meteorological conditions to reduce the cost of the flight. Due to the significant complexity this brings to traffic separation, UPR operations are currently limited to areas of low traffic density in oceanic airspace. The future introduction of automated delegated conflict detection technology will enable the broader application of UPR in Australian airspace.
Trajectory Based Operations—TBO
Trajectory Based Operation (TBO) represents a shift from the past and present concept of controlling aircraft based on the basis of knowing where they are, and estimating where they will be in the future, to knowing both present and intended positions to high degrees of accuracy—and sharing that information.
The TBO concept envisages that aircraft will fly four dimensional trajectories (the fourth being ‘time’) as agreed at the system level while giving consideration to overall network efficiency. The current air traffic control environment will require the capability to negotiate trajectory directly with aircraft systems. TBO will improve throughput, flight efficiency, flight times, and network predictability through better coordination of aircraft operations.
Collaborative Decision Making—CDM
Understanding that coordination and cooperation between many stakeholders is required to create a sustainable system, Airservices is implementing an ICAO initiative referred to as Collaborative Decision-Making (CDM).
An important component of ATM demand and capacity balancing is the smooth and efficient management of aircraft in the airport environment. Airservices will continue to implement a number of airport based initiatives designed to enhance air traffic flow management (ATFM) to manage delays for all airspace users, without compromising safety.
Airport CDM (A-CDM) seeks to improve operational efficiency by sharing information between airport operators, airlines, ground handlers and air traffic control. With access to greater information in real time, participants can make more reliable decisions regarding resource management and can make or request changes to flight schedules.
A-CDM will build upon the existing Ground Delay Program, which identifies when an air traffic demand/capacity imbalance occurs in a pre-tactical timeframe and allows aircraft to be held on the ground at the point of departure, rather than in an airborne holding pattern. This has improved predictability and has saved airlines fuel costs and reduced greenhouse gas emissions in the environment.
Meteorological CDM (MET CDM) has been introduced in Melbourne and Brisbane and has demonstrated improvements to operational predictability. It will brought into Sydney and Perth to provide operational benefits to airline customers. MET CDM also forms a part of the overall A‑CDM concept, in that it predicts runway capacity based on refined weather forecasts.
Airport Capacity Enhancement (ACE) Program
Airservices is continuing with the national Airport Capacity Enhancement (ACE) program in collaboration with airport and industry stakeholders. ACE addresses growing demand at Australia's major airports identifying opportunities on a location by location basis to increase the utilisation of existing infrastructure to increase runway capacity. These opportunities focus on the areas of:
- improving arrival spacing;
- standardising terminal speeds;
- reducing runway occupancy times and pilot response times; and
- improving communication between airport partners.
To date, ATM initiatives have been implemented in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane and a strategic plan has been developed for Adelaide.
A similar programme has been developed for Sydney through the Sydney Airport—Air Traffic Management Strategic Planning Group (SASPG). Sydney Airport is generally acknowledged to have reached capacity at peak times and the SASPG, comprising Airservices, airport and airport user representatives, works collaboratively to identify and implement actions to improve the flow of traffic through Sydney Airport. More information on the program can be found on Airservices website at http://www.airservicesaustralia.com/services/airport-capacity-enhancement-ace/.
Airport Slot Management
Coordination of airport slots is one of the primary mechanisms for airports to manage aviation demand, and have proven effective in contributing to the orderly management of air traffic and enhanced utilisation of aviation infrastructure and overall airport capacity. It is important to note, slot management schemes coordinate gate movements at an airport, but do not manage runway capacity or operations.
Coordination of both domestic and international slots occurs at Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Darwin Airports. At Melbourne, Cairns and Gold Coast Airports only international slots are coordinated. The slot management system in place at Sydney (Kingsford Smith) Airport is the only demand management system regulated by the Government and this occurs through the Sydney Airport Demand Management Act 1997. Each of the other slot management systems are implemented by the respective airports, with the close collaboration of Airservices and industry. The Government is supportive of airports implementing demand management systems where benefits would be realised by airlines and the travelling public.
The ATM community increasingly depends on the provision of timely, relevant, accurate, accredited and quality-assured information in order to collaborate and make informed decisions.
Information flows will be supported by System Wide Information Management (SWIM), through an interconnected set of domain systems providing or consuming information, including human users and aircraft. Through SWIM, information is made available and processed through services which need to conform to applicable standards and be registered so that they are accessible. This will improve information management and information sharing.
Integrated Tower Automation Suite (INTAS) is a fully harmonized suite of ATC tools that provides Airservices controllers with a common, modern set of key ATC systems and capabilities in a single customizable platform to meet both the current and future demands of aviation and industry users. INTAS replaces the traditional paper-based console with a number of touch screen monitors. All tower data and communication is accessed via these touch screens. It also integrates electronic flight strips, operational data management, digital automatic terminal information services, voice communication control system and the electronic surveillance system.
Aviation Weather Services
The BOM's Aviation Weather Service is committed to enhance the safety, regularity and efficiency of national and international aviation operations through the provision of accurate, timely and relevant information for aerodromes and en route operations.
The BOM provides meteorological services for civil aviation and Defence in Australia in accordance with the SARPs set out in Annex 3 of the Chicago Convention and Australian requirements. These include meteorological observations and reports, forecasts, hazardous weather advisories and warnings, climatological information and environmental intelligence.
In support of an efficient and effective ATM system, the BOM has embedded meteorologists in the Sydney TCU and the Airservices National Operations Centre (NOC) and is implementing meteorological input into Airservices Air Traffic Flow Management (ATFM) system.
The BOM is implementing the outcomes of the 2014 aerodrome forecast (TAF) review which established a methodology for determining the criteria under which aerodromes would receive a TAF service and the required level of service. The review also recommended upgrades to the meteorological observational infrastructure and enhanced TAF reporting at a number of aerodromes based on thresholds including passenger numbers and aircraft movements.
Upgrades to the meteorological observational infrastructure will also provide additional aviation weather services to industry. The next scheduled review of TAF services is scheduled for the second half of 2017 and every three years thereafter.
In 2015, a review of trend forecasts (TTF) was undertaken by a stakeholder working group. This review proposed that major civil and Defence airports that currently have TTF service should transition from a TTF and six-hourly issued TAF to a three-hourly issued TAF service alone. The final implementation of the TTF review outcomes is the subject of ongoing consideration by the BOM in consultation with Government aviation agencies and industry.