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Airservices Australia: The MATE Project: helping Airservices Australia improve efficiency within Australian Flight Information Regions

Airservices Australia's mission is to provide safe, secure, efficient and environmentally responsible services to the aviation industry. In order to improve service to our customers, Airservices recognised that it needed to more accurately measure a range of Air Traffic Management performance parameters, having reflected on the old adage 'you can't manage something you can't measure'.

In June 2014, the Operational Data Analysis Suite (ODAS) was launched within Airservices. ODAS has been designed to bring together airspace data and analysis functions into a single set of tools which is based on a mathematic foundation of more than 100 000 lines of computer code. Its complexity is a reflection of Australia's vast Flight Information Regions (FIRs), and the need to integrate numerous sources of surveillance data (such as radar, ADS-B, ADS-C and filed flight plans) from each flight into a single centralised database.

A cornerstone of ODAS is the Dali trajectory prediction model, which was developed by Airservices in collaboration with Boeing Research and Technology, Europe (BR&TE). It is based on aircraft dynamics and flight management principles, together with the latest EUROCONTROL aircraft performance data (BADA/4) and up to date meteorological information.

Dali gathers aircraft information such as basic commands, guidance modes and control strategies to mimic an aircrafts' trajectory. To do this, Dali applies the Aircraft Intent Description Language (AIDL) framework developed by BR&TE. Dali has many ways to generate aircraft intent depending on the objectives of is the flight being modelled.

As an example, Dali can take information from a flight plan and predict the trajectory. Based on surveillance data, Dali can then generate the aircraft's intent by simulating the aircraft in order to perform fuel burn and emissions estimations. By combining ODAS and Dali, Airservices is able to assess the efficiency of a flight by comparing what actually happened to what was planned. The Dali model is unique in that it provides the ability to assess actual outcomes against a reference trajectory. The accuracy of this reference trajectory has been verified by the flight management system data from a number of airlines.

With the belief that Dali will provide a much improved way to model air transport efficiency (MATE) in the Australian Flight Information Regions, Airservices commenced engagement with its airline customers. This engagement is being undertaken by the MATE Programme Management Group (PMG) under Airservices new industry forum, the Air Traffic Operations Implementation Monitoring Group (ATOIMG) for Efficient Flightpaths. The MATE PMG already consists of six key Airservices airline customers and is looking for the participation of more airlines in the group.

In the first instance, the group is focused on the external validation of Dali, and its output. Airlines are actively participating in this process, recognising the value that the tool will have in the future. Once the validation is complete, Airservices will use Dali to evaluate options which have the potential to improve flight efficiency, such as Required Navigation Performance – Approval Required (RNP-AR) operations, reduced holding fuel, new FlexTracks, User Preferred Routes (UPRs), continuous descent and continuous climb operations.

Another key component of the MATE project is the ongoing review, analysis and selection of the most appropriate flight efficiency metrics for Australian‐managed airspace. To date, this work has included a detailed review of flight efficiency and environmental performance metrics used by other air navigation service providers, ICAO and CANSO. This review found that efficiency metrics can be classified into three main types including: total fuel burn and CO2 emissions; additional track miles, flight time and costs; and savings from specific initiatives.

The MATE project is planning to use a combination of these efficiency metrics to demonstrate efficiency improvements, or otherwise, in Australian airspace, and Airservices' contributions to flight efficiency.

While only in its infancy, all parties involved in the MATE project agree that it will enable Airservices to deliver improved services and benefits to our customers by directing efforts towards improving airspace efficiency and contributing to minimisation of fuel consumption.

For more information on Airservices MATE Project, please contact Paul Zissermann on paul.zissermann@airservicesaustralia.com .