SESAR programme

The Single European Sky


The European sky is currently fragmented, managed and controlled by more than 60 control centres (the United States, with a similar monitoring surface, has only 20) which still follow the borders of the national states. This fragmentation is the cause of possible delays, pointlessly longer routes, wasted fuel and a higher production of CO2.


To solve this problem, almost twenty years ago, the European Commission began working on a programme to provide Europe with a modern and safe management system capable of handling the needs of the sector. Therefore, in 1999, the Single European Sky project was launched with the goal of improving the performance of Air Traffic Management (ATM) and Air Navigation Services (ANS) thanks to an improved and revamped integration of European airspace.


The advantages expected to come out of the initiative are enormous: around 2030-2035, with the Single European Sky, we will be able to handle traffic which is expected to double (source: Eurocontrol), cut ATM costs in half, improve safety and reduce the impact of air travel on the environment by 10 % with respect to the 2004 data.

The project entails subdividing airspace management, no longer as it is done today, based on territorial criteria, but in “functional blocks of airspace” in order to maximise efficiency of use. The end goal is to perform traffic control based on flight models that lead to greater safety, efficiency and capacity.


What is SESAR?


The Single European Sky aims to organise air traffic in the best possible way to make it more efficient, competitive, safe and less hazardous to the environment. Sesar (Single European Sky Air traffic management Research) is the enabler of this ambitious goal, because its task is to accelerate the reform of air navigation services and to identify the innovative technological elements that allow a new air traffic management system to be created.

The purpose of Sesar is to achieve the following results:

  1. developing systems for the reduction of air traffic management costs, fuel consumption, CO2 emissions and flight time;
  2. increasing the operational efficiency for airspace users, reducing delays and increasing the aircraft capacity, considering the fact that, at the current rate of air traffic growth, many European airports will be faced with problems of congestion.

The measures involve both the civilian and military sector and concern regulation, economy, safety, environment, technology and institutions. The programme anticipates a series of projects in which Italy currently participates playing a prominent role, along with airport management companies and national air transportation stakeholders.

ADR and the SESAR programme

ADR is involved in numerous projects which each anticipate an operational plan with tight deadlines from now to 2020.

The projects are the following:


ASMGCS – Advanced-Surface Movement Guidance and Control System (Family 2.2.1 - A-SMGCS Level 1&2) with the goal of increasing the airport safety level, guaranteeing constant monitoring of the vehicles and aircraft that access the manoeuvring area by the Control Tower, decreasing the possibility of collisions or incursions in dangerous areas. The project anticipates:

  • the creation of an antenna system on the airport structure for a Multilateration system,
  • the fitting of ADS-B transponder and display on vehicles that access the manoeuvring area,
  • the integration of the Multilateration system with the ENAV systems,
  • the development of data presentation software for the flight operation centre and the vehicle displays to monitor aircraft movements on the apron more punctually and to have precise data on when they dock in the stand.


VDGS – Visual Docking Guidance System (Family 2.4.1 - A-SMGCS Routing and Planning Functions) with the end goal of increasing safety in docking operations in the aircraft stand, improving flight punctuality, making turnaround operations more efficient providing useful information on the tarmac to pilot and handler.

The project anticipates equipping the Fiumicino stands with a latest generation visual docking guidance system (VDGS) which will safely guide the pilot during entrance, exit and docking manoeuvres. Furthermore, it will be integrated with the airport database and supported by screens where useful information will be provided to pilots and handlers for flight preparation.

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AOP & APOC – Airport Operations Plan & Airport Operation Centre (Family 2.1.4 - Initial Airport Operational Plan (AOP)), which anticipates the creation of an Airport Operation Centre (APOC) to combine all of the single Operation Centres currently in the airport into one space and to place the main airport stakeholders in contact. The centralisation of the centres will allow communication and collaboration processes to be improved, including during emergency management.

The single Operation Centre will be supported by a new set of digital tools that will facilitate management and planning of the airport resources and infrastructures that will make up the future Airport Operational Plan (AOP). Software will be created that will allow real time monitoring of the airport’s performance and replanning of the infrastructures based on the operational needs, simulating the impacts that this new planning will have on the airport.

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SWIM – System Wide Information Management (Family 5.2.3 - Stakeholders SWIM PKI and Cybersecurity), which anticipates implementing firewall improvement initiatives for the continuous updating of the airport to comply with European standards in terms of cybersecurity and to realise an assessment study to upgrade ADR to the “SWIM” communication standard, a protocol defined on a European level to manage the exchange of data between the stakeholders involved in managing the airspace (ATM).


NOP – Network Operations Plan (Family 4.2.4 - AOP-NOP information sharing), which anticipates ADR’s participation in an international table coordinated by Eurocontrol to define the Airport Operational Plan (AOP) data of the airport and the exchange and integration methods with the central European Planning system. The goal is to implement communication between systems with a view to greater collaboration between European ATM centres.


Collaboration with INEA

The projects that ADR initiated in 2016 and 2017 obtained CEF (Connecting Europe Facility) financing, made available by the European Union Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA) for the implementation of the Single European Sky through projects which will bridge the technological gaps identified by the SESAR programme.

In particular, during the CEF 2016 calls for proposals, ADR obtained 43% financing for the two projects ASMGCS and VDGS and, during the CEF 2017 calls, ADR obtained 50% financing for the three projects AOP-APOC, SWIM and NOP. ADR’s participation in these calls took place in collaboration with other stakeholders including ENAV and other European management companies to manage the fascinating and demanding objective of the Single European Sky in an integrated way.