With almost 6 billion passengers expected in 2030 compared to 4.3 billion today, the air transport sector is reaching a crucial moment in its history. Indeed, it must therefore face a major challenge: to meet the growing demand of users while reducing its environmental footprint.
The growth in passenger numbers raises medium-term challenges for airspace users concerning air traffic management and its services. Anticipating this strong growth by implementing new services is necessary to meet passenger demand for the coming years. The ATM community must continue its efforts in order to avoid evolving within a saturated air traffic environment.
Indeed, the growth of commercial air traffic is about to exceed the capacity available resulting in increasing delays and extra carbon emissions. It is now imperative to take a new step forward in air traffic management, at a time when passenger growth is likely to double every 15 years. The figures below show a significant increase in traffic over the previous year:
- In 2018, 4.3 billion passengers boarded one of the 1300 airlines worldwide
- In that year, more than 38 million flights travelled the world
- Lately, global air traffic has grown by an average of +6%.
- Europe recorded the second highest growth (6.7%), and represents the largest international market with 37% of market share* in 2018.
- Flights delays in 2018 increased by 105% in Europe compared to 2017.
* revenue per passenger per kilometre
Absorbing this evolution will require a paradigm shift with digitalization, which will revolutionize Air Traffic management. This is a digital revolution, bringing profound changes that must be developed over the long-term.
In this context, several actions have been implemented by the European Commission, in particular the SESAR program and its objective of building a Single European Sky. The global approach is: air navigation service providers (ANSP) and states need to work together to benefit from new technologies in order to move towards a seamless airspace. These transformation objectives will strengthen the network’s performance while taking into account environmental impacts. New technologies will thus contribute to harmonizing air traffic systems, processes and flows within a more safe and efficient air traffic.
Digitalization for a collaborative air traffic management
Projects that are part of this new dimension of air traffic management need the development of new technologies adapted to the sector: digitalization, which allows remote air traffic control between different actors and automation.
In addition, renewing ATM tools and interoperability are essential to evolve in an optimized seamless air traffic management context.
These crucial points increase the capacity of the network thanks to better flight predictability and reduced trajectories, enabling to limit environmental impacts and delays for the next years.
A growth neutral objective in terms of CO2 emissions
The aviation sector has already made considerable progress in terms of the environment, with a 25% reduction in carbon emissions over the past 15 years, in part due to improved aircraft performance. Efforts are continuing by all aviation stakeholders to maintain this objective: in addition, the sector is committed to environmental neutral growth in CO2 emissions while taking into account traffic growth over the next few years. According to The International Air Transport Association (IATA), the establishment of the Single European Sky would reduce emissions by 10%.
At a time when the environment is becoming a political and societal priority, improvements and modernization of air traffic management systems must be a long-term process.
CCS, enabling the digitalization of ATM to build the Single European Sky
To adapt to the growth of market demand, aviation digitalization will accelerate in the next years. Various systems such as CCS, currently in implementation phase, provide a powerful solution to meet the increase in traffic. These systems have to address environmental challenges, to be extended to all ATM stakeholders.
The Coflight Cloud Services development team explains: “A new technology for air traffic management requires 10 to 15 years of development before a fully operational deployment. With CCS, we wanted to anticipate these changes in order to be ready to support air traffic growth by 2030, in line with the ambitions of the SESAR program”
Coflight Cloud Services is constantly working on environmental challenges: currently, the system improves trajectory prediction thus enabling more flexible planning and enhanced free route. Consequently, travel distance and flight time will reduce fuel burn and CO2 emissions
Data normalization and system interoperability also have an important impact on reducing infrastructures and DATA centers, which enable to reduce electricity consumption and logistics.
CCS is helping to modernize the industry and reduce environmental impact for the future generations with the integration of new services, driving the digital transformation of aviation.