The trial flight took place on November 27th with an Airbus A320 aircraft following three commercial Air France aircraft approaching Toulouse, south-western France. This ASPA flight test is a major milestone for the SESAR programme as part of the aim to move from an airspace-based environment to a trajectory-based environment.
The ASPA solution, which automatically ensures the spacing between two aircraft in an approach phase, improves air traffic management efficiency thanks to better sequencing and merging of air traffic in a congested area. It is expected to enter into service in 2018.
The flight test was the first time that the ASPA solution had been fully integrated and tested in real conditions, and the trial proved successful. Technical and operational performance, passenger comfort and the reduction in fuel consumption were all deemed satisfactory. A second trial for Airborne Separation Assistance System Spacing is scheduled for end 2013.
The ASPA flight trial is a result of collaboration between aviation industry partners including Airbus, Air France, Thales, Honeywell, Eurocontrol and French civil aviation authority DGAC, all of whom jointly contributed to this success.
* SESAR is the operational and technological dimension of the Single European Sky initiative: an ambitious initiative launched by the European Commission in 2004 to reform the architecture of European Air Traffic Management (ATM). Website: www.sesarju.eu
Photos credit © AIRBUS S.A.S 2011 / Photo by E'M Company/ P. PIGEYRE