A consortium of European air navigation service providers and airlines has recently been formed to explore optimised descent profiles (ODP) from upper airspace to terminal manoeuvring areas. The goal is to improve vertical flight efficiency and environmental sustainability while also considering capacity aspects.
Following free route projects and continuous descent operations at numerous airports, the focus for optimisation now lies on the route segment between cruising altitude and the terminal manoeuvring areas around airports.
The air navigation service providers of Germany (DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung), Austria (Austro Control), France (DSNA) and Switzerland (Skyguide), as well as EUROCONTROL’s Maastricht Upper Area Control Centre (MUAC) aim to develop optimised descent procedures for certain approach paths to the airports of Basel, Berlin-Tegel, Frankfurt, Geneva, Munich, Strasbourg, Stuttgart, Vienna and Zurich.
The project will conduct fast-time and real-time simulations as well as several cross-border exercises, developing continuous descent profiles at the highest level possible for aircraft coming from both free route and conventional route airspaces. Cross-centre arrival management systems (XMAN) and their applicability in the context of continuous descent operations will also be examined.
The results will be verified by test flights in cooperation with the airline operators and consortium members Air France, Deutsche Lufthansa, SWISS and their affiliated airlines (among them HOP!, Austrian Airlines, Germanwings).
The consortium, which is under the lead of DFS, is co-funded by the SESAR Joint Undertaking. The final project results are expected to be available by September 2016.