The collapse of air traffic caused by COVID-19 crisis accelerates the questioning of the reliability of the current ATM model, already committed by the Airspace Architecture Study and the concept of Virtual Centre. The aim is therefore to move towards a service-oriented industry that is much more resilient and flexible. SES 2+ and more recently CP1 want to accelerate virtualisation and thus data processing. The collection, sharing and use of data to provide innovative services to ATM stakeholders are at the heart of the discussions. This European strategic vision introduces the ATM Data Service Provider (ADSP).

With the development of the Virtual Centre, there is a growing need for data management. Indeed, this model puts forward the concept of control airspace block.  In another words, it means that the airspace controller could performed his/her job wherever he/she is geographically located. The Virtual Centre therefore needs an actor able to manage ATM data in a decoupled way, which is the main strength of an ADSP model.

The role of an ADSP

An ADSP is an entity, which manages ATM data processing and produces associated services for Air Traffic Supervisors (ATS). Its services can be provided in two ways:

  • For a given ATS, it is possible to have several ADSPs providing different services. For example, an ADSP A provides a flight plan processing service and an ADSP B provides a radar service.
  • Alternatively, a single ADSP can provide all services for an ATS or several ATS.

The ADSP is therefore an enabler for the Virtual Centre, since it can be geographically remote from the ATS. On one hand ADSP helps to separate the various ATM bricks, as responsible for the technical services and associated data, on the other hand ATS remain focus on the core business with air traffic control.

The ADSP participates in the decoupling of the ATM architecture, in fact data is provided on one side and data processing on the other. There are therefore pure data providers and service providers (data processing). This is possible thanks to new architecture such as event driven architecture and the loose coupling of the ATM systems components.

The establishment of this player also raises boundaries such as: making a clear distinction between services, ensuring maximum flexibility in business models and finally listing the characteristics and skills required for its ATM data services. 

In order to be able to facilitate exchanges and communication between the different actors, the implementation of standardised interfaces is essential. This is where an ADSP should ensure the deployment of SWIM standards developed by EUROCONTROL, SESAR and SWIM governance. The introduction of ADSPs may also give rise to new needs that will lead to an evolution of these standards. The use of standards for data exchange facilitates the interoperability of the ATM system and therefore greater flexibility.

The benefits of integrating ADSP

The integration of such a player brings various benefits to the overall ATM system.

Firstly, the airspaces users take advantage of the dynamic configuration of the system. skyguide’s ANSP is already involved in this configuration, notably through the Virtual Centre.  skyguide’s objective is to rationalise these two control structures (one in Zurich and the other in Geneva) at night, in order to optimise procurement, maintenance and staff training costs.. 

An ADSP enables Air Traffic Service Providers to optimise traffic management operations during peak hours or at night by delegating airspace. It also optimises internal technical support, since part of it, is managed by the ADSPs. 

Overall, the integration of this player is actively contributing to the implementation of a more resilient and flexible ATM system:

  • If one ATS is no longer able to provide its control services, another can replace it using the data provided by the ADSP. This is one of the key principle of the Virtual Centre.
  • The same is true for an ADSP that is no longer able to provide its services. It could be easily replaced by another ADSP, in particular thanks to the SWIM standards.

Upcoming Challenges with the ADSP concept integration

Many challenges emerge from the discussions about the arrival of this major player.

Firstly, the regulatory aspect. The massive use and sharing of ATM data raises questions for all stakeholders. The total confidence of States and ATSPs is essential to ensure the smooth operation of this new system. To ensure it, the introduction of a dedicated ADSP certification is a good way to maintain a high level of quality and trust among the stakeholders.

The question of data and services governance also arises. This is where the SWIM standards take on their full meaning. Indeed, managed by SWIM governance, these standards ensure the security, integrity and control of the data used. Nevertheless, the access to the data remain a challenge.

What about the major changes in IT skills? It will indeed be essential to have resources that master its new technologies (data management, event driven architecture, agility at scale, interoperability and cloud infrastructure)), either internally or via external services. People working for the ADSPs will have to get used to new ways of working. They will have to be able to work with different countries, more interfaces and in a common language New hard and soft skills will be a must have

It will be essential to develop a common European deployment program and appropriate funding for early movers in order to develop European interoperability, based on a service-oriented approach using a common high-level architecture.

CCS’s vision

Based on the SESAR programme and on the Airspace Study Architecture, CCS is an enabler of the Virtual Centre and accelerates the development of ADSPs with the integration of its first service in the SWIM registry: the Technical Integration Service (TIS).  CCS participates in the digital transformation and improvement of the ATM system by improving ATM capacity and cost-effectiveness in Europe.

CCS also ensures the interoperability of exchanges between all ATS and other ADSPs thanks to SWIM and IOP standards.

Finally, CCS focuses on an open, modular and interoperable architecture that guarantees maximum flexibility and agility. Based on the technology of key ATM providers in Europe, Thales and Leonardo, CCS guarantees data management and customised service provision to allow ANSPs to focus on their core business.

CCS therefore naturally positions itself as an ADSP, and this, is already in place with our customer and partner skyguide. This year, ENAV and DSNA teams continue the deployment with the strengthening of the Technical Integration Service and the future co-creation with skyguide of an initial dataset operation planned to be validated, through the initial validation service.