Airbus has delivered the first *FANS-C-equipped A320 aircraft to easyJet. In the framework of Europe’s SESAR Air Traffic Management (ATM) research programme, this aircraft – and others to follow – will take part in the Airbus-led project “Demonstration of air traffic management improvements generated by 4D Initial Trajectory Information Sharing” (DIGITS), which will demonstrate the sharing of an aircraft’s predicted trajectory data with air traffic control (ATC).
FANS-C technology will enable airlines to optimise their aircraft’s trajectories and make traffic flows more fluid and aircraft speed easier to manage, which will help them to save fuel and reduce noise. In particular, the sharing of predicted trajectories with ATC controllers will enable smooth aircraft sequencing on approach and in the “Terminal Maneuvering Area.”
Hugh McConnellogue, Group Head of Network Operations at easyJet said: “We are very pleased to be the first airline to receive this new FANS-C technology in our Airbus aircraft – and to try it for real in the SESAR demonstration. Our early hands-on experience already indicates that it promises to be an important enabler to increase the efficiency, safety and on-time performance of our expanding operations – especially in the congested European airspace.”
Jean-Brice Dumont, Executive Vice President of Engineering, Airbus Commercial Aircraft said: “We congratulate easyJet on the delivery of the first FANS-C equipped Airbus aircraft, which marks the start of this very large demonstration of 4D initial trajectory sharing across Europe.” He adds: “We are proud to lead this SESAR project and to play our part in helping ATM respond to the increase in air traffic volume while enhancing safety, and to bring about a positive environmental impact thanks to a more efficient ATM system.”
From now until mid-2020, seven European airlines, which are all taking part in DIGITS, will progressively equip up to 100 of their A320 Family aircraft with the FANS-C technology. The “Very Large Demonstration” (VLD) will last more than a year and collect data from over 20,000 revenue flights, allowing stakeholders to demonstrate benefits of this technology during live day-to-day operations.
Paving the way for start of the DIGITS operational phase and to ultimately deploy this technology across Europe and the rest of the world, Airbus achieved the world’s first certification of FANS-C 4D avionics on a commercial aircraft in November 2018 – the initial aircraft type being the A320 Family. Moreover, to complement the airborne FANS-C technology, air navigation service providers (ANSPs) throughout Europe will develop the respective ground ATC tools.
SESAR = Single European Sky ATM Research
FANS-C is facilitated with two key components: “Automatic Dependent Surveillance Contract” (ADS-C) and “Controller-Pilot Data Link Communication” (CPDLC). ADS-C enables the automatic or on-demand transmission to air traffic control of the aircraft’s complete predicted four-dimensional aircraft trajectory (3D + time), while CPDLC facilitates the digital uplink of ATC orders and clearances. The benefits of FANS-C include: more accurate flight plans, more optimised trajectory computation and acceptance processes, better alignment of airlines’ and ATM planned trajectories, enhancement of aircraft traffic predictions and improvement of demand/capacity network calculations. The seven airlines taking part in the DIGITS programme comprise: Air France, British Airways, easyJet, Iberia, Novair, Thomas Cook and Wizz Air.
For FANS-C capability on-board an A320 Family aircraft, the equipment required includes a new data link router (ATSU), an upgraded Flight Management System (FMS) and “DCDU” data link compatible cockpit displays. FANS-C will be first available on the A320 Family and subsequently on all other Airbus programmes.