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Mobility and Transport

Optimizing trajectories over the 4DWeatherCube

Immenstaad am Bodensee, GermanyAirbusDefence and Space in cooperation with Luciad and EUMETNET

When MET Service Providers...

In the frame of the SESAR program, the EUMETNET consortium members have collaborated to deliver the meteorological brick of the overall SESAR architecture: The 4DWeatherCube.

Designed as the one stop shop for meteorology in Europe, the 4DWeather Cube delivers regulated and innovative meteorological information through SWIM compliant web services.

In the beginning of 2015, those services have been exposed to the ATM industry in the frame of the SWIM Master Class to enable the development of innovative ATM applications in line with the ATM Master Plan objectives. industry leaders

Considering the increasing number of flights in the Single European Sky AIRBUS Defence and Space together with Luciad and EUMETNET developed a solution to help ATM operators in optimizing Trajectories and Airspace. The SES Optimization Solution which is an initiative out of the SWIM Master Classes 2014 and 2015, is a SWIM-based service and application to support ATM stakeholders in the effort to reduce aviation's impact to the Earths' environment whilst gaining maximum ATM network performance. The solution is in line with SESAR's prime objectives "Saving flight time (8 to 14 minutes average per flight), fuel and CO2" and "Reduction of environmental impact by 10% per flight".

The SWIM Master Class awards recognized the technical and innovative achievement in the field of applications (2014) and services(2015).

As we move to operations and business, the Single European Sky award is the occasion to gain visibility about our partnership.

Award Criteria

  • Contribution to increasing capacity of ATM systems
  • Contribution to increasing safety of ATM systems
  • Contribution to reducing ATM costs
  • Contribution to reducing the impact of air transport on the environment
  • Early implementation


Contribution to increasing capacity of ATM systems

4DWeatherCube enables a precise and shared view of weather information which can help to better organise the airspace and therefore increase capacity. Optimising 4D trajectories and coordinating well with needed static airspace reservations based on 4D weather data also enables increase in capacity. During several SESAR Validation Exercises (VP 710, VP774 and VP789) a reduction of flight distance / fuel and CO2 production (by -65.4 nm, -495 kg (fuel) and -1.554 kg (CO2)) could be gained in a predefined scenario. Shorter flights mean a gain of capacity. The scope of the validation exercises was different, but the tools, systems and procedures were equal to the ones used in this partnership.

Contribution to increasing safety of ATM

4DWeather cube enables the in time delivery of weather hazards (convection, icing and clear air turbulence) to the ATM users and therefore contributes to increase safety.

The shared consistent vision of hazardous Weather across Europe is also improving safety.

This applies during the planning and execution phase of all flights.

Contribution to reducing ATM costs

By enabling optimization of 4D trajectories, the solution contributes to a reduction of flight time. In this way usage of the SES can be further optimized. Advanced optimisation by reduction of conflicts between 4D trajectories and airspaces helps in minimizing flight distances. Early foreseeing and avoiding hazardous weather phenomenon also reduces necessary rerouting. Less flight time in consequence leads to less controlling time which helps to reduce ATM costs.

Furthermore a noticeable improvement in planning and managing workflows of ATM operators (e. g. Flight Planners, Mission Planners, FlightPlan Operators (IFPS), Airspace Managers) will be gained by integrating the applications and services provided by the partners Airbus Defence and Space, Luciad and EUMETNET. The implementation of the "Optimizing trajectories over the 4DWeatherCube" solution is fully in line with latest Master Plan and concepts of SESAR. Using this cutting edge technology to manage 4D trajectories and airspace in the SES, along with environmental information at the same time, will clearly increase planning speed. Workflows and collaborative decision making can be much faster. This will increase the speed and quality of decision making for the operators and that also will in turn lead to a reduction in ATM costs!

Hence the solution "Optimizing trajectories over the 4DWeatherCube" can be seen as an enabler to save ATM costs.

Contribution to reducing the impact of air transport on the environment

Today aircraft operators optimize their flights according to current rules and regulations to be most efficient in their flight planning and execution. Our solution supports aviation partners in optimizing the network gain additional performance. By enabling optimization of 4D trajectories the solution contributes to a reduction of flight time. A reduction in flight time in turn leads to a decrease in fuel consumption and therefore less CO2 emission. In this way air transport can benefit and at the same time reduce impact on Earth's environment.

A field of innovation we have explored is contrails. Contrary to the CO2 emission, this topic is not yet regulated by ICAO. Research studies show that contrails emitted by aviation contribute to the global warming. Our solution proposes to quantify and minimize the impact of contrails on environment. By creating a measuring tool for contrails impact, we will open the way for further trade-off between efficiency and green flight.

Another aspect of our solution is the capability of on-the-fly use of weather information enabled by real time meteorological services. The 4DWeatherCube services provide current but also forecast information, which is the basis of our trajectory optimization calculations. By avoiding hazardous weather areas (like storms or ash clouds, etc.) critical situations which endanger aircraft in flight can be reduced. Guiding aviators safely to destination also helps to avoid negative impact to the aircraft and environment.

Early implementation ("First mover")

The solution has been based on open standards, known formats and proven technology. Furthermore interfaces with existing (fielded) systems and products showed already the benefit and further potential. A prototype of the solution "Optimizing trajectories over the 4DweatherCube" can be seen on the World ATM Congress (Madrid, 2016). The basis technology coming from Luciad is already implemented in a service-oriented way and can be made available elsewhere via internet. Interfaces to existing systems were well recognized from partners (mainly from Eurocontrol and the Military) during different Validation Exercises within SESAR (see also point 1. "capacity").

Potential to be replicated over the ATM network

The 4DWeatherCube concept originates from NextGen: Its principles have been adopted in various regions of the world.

The 4DWeatherCube provides a single logical point of access for all meteorological information in Europe.

The final physical architecture has not yet been decided. The foreseen architecture allows the software to be replicated and deployed among several physical locations for redundancy.

A key principle of the design was an open architecture which can integrate easily weather information delivered by multiple Meteorological Service Providers.

To ease global deployment, the proposed applications using the 4DWeatherCube are all cross-platform and built entirely upon SWIM standards and services.

Innovative aspects

The solution proposed is fully compliant with SESAR standards (SWIM). A special effort has been put on the performances as meteorological information deals with "Big Data".

Combination of different sources of information (i.e. Meteorological Data, Flight Plan data (Network Manager), Airspace Data (Airspace Manager)) combined with an easy-to-understand visualisation has been the key to the innovative solution developed by Airbus Defence and Space, Luciad and EUMETNET.

Innovative aspects of our solution have been recognized by the community through the SWIM Master Class awards 2014 [Application] and 2015 [Service].

Promoting partnership

Classical relationship of MET Service Providers is with their respective ANSPs through regulated products.

Thanks to SESAR, MET products straight out of science have been proposed to the industry for innovation.

The partnership between Airbus Defence and Space with Luciad formed during SMC 2014, has been very beneficial in marketing aspects for both sides. Several presentations and demos where executed in Germany, Belgium, France and Spain. The solution has always been well recognized by the spectators. Main Contribution from Airbus Defence and Space has been ATM knowledge and operational experience in Aviation plus implementation of interfaces between ATM domain (Network Manager, Airspace Manager) and operation support systems.

Luciad brought its state-of-the-art geospatial software solution, including hardware-accelerated components to perform on-the-fly 4D visual analytics on large amounts of data and components to work with and deploy SWIM-enabled standards and services.

EUMETNET joined the partnership in 2015 with its 4DWeatherCube solution. MET products have been integrated to extend the solution to address the environmental aspect of flight optimisation.

Promoting SES and SESAR beyond the Union's boundaries

SESAR 4DWeatherCube is an active partner of the SWIM global demonstration planned for June2016. Through this activity, EUMETNET ensures coordination with other regional MET Service Providers such as US, Australia, Dubai... In the frame of future SESAR activities, we will enhance the coordination between regional MET Service Providers at a global level.

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