In today’s world, digitalisation is unstoppable, and it is expected to break the paradigms of most businesses, including air traffic management (ATM).
While in typical mass markets, new and innovative applications appear and grow with the market altogether, in the air traffic industry, the expected investment is so high that it can’t be borne by a single organisation, let alone during a pandemic, where, at its peak, air traffic fell by 80 per cent. Additionally, the nature of this business – being so critical for countries’ transportation – combined with the extremely stringent requirements related to safety, security and resilience, makes it very reluctant to change. And yet, digitalisation is recognised as a key element by all the stakeholders involved, including airlines, air navigation service providers (ANSPs), national governments and the European Union.
All of this has been conceptualised into the Digital European Sky, as a new inspiration paradigm, for the new air traffic management to be developed in years to come. Achieving this vision requires joining forces. For this reason, an alliance of powerful European air navigation service providers, the iTEC Alliance, was created in 2007. More recently, in 2021, EUROCONTROL launched the integrated Network Management (iNM) initiative following the same principles.
The iTEC Alliance brings together seven of the most important ANSPs across Europe, including Germany, Spain, the UK, the Netherlands, Norway, Lithuania and Poland, trusting Indra as the only technology partner of the group. The partners of the Alliance manage some of the busiest and most complex air traffic spaces in the world, managing millions of flights per year, in an area that spans from the Canary Islands to the North Pole, and from UK Oceanic to the Eastern borders of the European Union in Poland and Lithuania.
Beyond the provision of digital systems, the iTEC ATM platform will enable the European harmonisation of air traffic operations through a common concept of operations for all iTEC Alliance members that is fully aligned with European R&D Programs (SESAR).
Through cutting-edge digital technologies and modern architecture paradigms, iTEC digitalisation will enable a new level of automation, while optimising traffic capacities resulting in a significant reduction of CO2 emissions.
The Polish Air Navigation Services Agency (PANSA) is a very active member of the iTEC Alliance regarding digitalisation, joining forces with Indra, one of the leading players of the ATM market worldwide, not only as the Alliance’s technology provider but also as a critical long-term partner.
In the effort to build the digital sky and allow more comfortable and efficient flights, Europe’s leading air navigation body, EUROCONTROL, launched the largest contract tender in its history: the digital transformation of the iNM operational systems. Indra was awarded the contract, which will be worth roughly €200 million. EUROCONTROL is an intergovernmental organisation, designated by the European Commission, and aims at managing the European air traffic network, cooperating closely with ANSPs, airports, airlines and the military across 43 states.
The iNM system will play a critical role in coordinating a network of 68 major air traffic control centres and over 500 European airports, which serves more than 6,600 airlines, supervising around 11 million flights a year.
Thanks to the use of cloud computing, virtualisation, artificial intelligence, machine learning and advanced flight plan processing, Indra will provide EUROCONTROL with a new ATM tool, which is expected to take European air traffic to new levels, multiplying efficiency, punctuality and reducing CO2 emissions.