Leaders from the aviation industry and European institutions are gathering today in Brussels at the SESAR 3 Joint Undertaking’s first annual conference to discuss how aviation and air traffic management (ATM) are gearing up for the digital age.
Digitalisation can help Europe’s aviation industry become more resilient to crises while delivering smarter and more sustainable air mobility in Europe. That will be the key message delivered by speakers to the 350-strong audience attending the one-day high-level conference and exhibition.
With the theme of ‘Airspace fit for the digital age’, the conference is bringing together representatives from the European Commission, the European Parliament, Member States, as well as industry leaders, research centres, SMEs and universities. Climate change is front and centre of today’s discussions as aviation seeks to ensure that its modernisation efforts meet the European Green Deal’s net-zero ambition by 2050.
“Aviation is by its nature pioneering and innovative so it’s not surprising to see the huge leaps of progress the industry is making on the decarbonisation front. We need to ensure that we are squeezing out energy inefficiencies all along the value chain. That includes air traffic management. I see that you the SESAR research community have done so much so far to introduce technologies that lower the carbon footprint of ATM. I am confident that the new programme will yield even more innovations and will help accelerate the move to more eco-efficient flight,” says Adina-Ioana Vălean, European Commissioner for Mobility and Transport, who is scheduled to participate in an exchange with Karima Delli, Member of the European Parliament and Chair of the Parliament's Transport and Tourism Committee.
“Green technology and solutions made in Europe, and implemented anywhere, will play an important role in decarbonising aviation. That means building a truly sustainable ecosystem involving all aviation players – large and small – in achieving full market uptake of these sustainable solutions. In the new SESAR 3 JU partnership, bringing together the EU and all the major aviation stakeholders, shows the will is certainly there,” Ms Delli adds.
Resilience is also a core theme of the conference. Industries that collaborate and invest in innovation are better equipped to anticipate, adapt and rebound more quickly from disruptions.
“Aviation is on the path to full recovery and our attention is now turning to the future challenges. We want to better cope with future disruptions and manage more and different types of aircraft safely and sustainably. We’ll need more innovation to help deliver smarter solutions and deploy them fast across the whole aviation value chain,” says Henrik Hololei, Director General of the European Commission’s Directorate for Mobility and Transport (DG MOVE) and Chair of SESAR 3 JU’s Governing Board.
Partnership is essential to delivering transformational change in air traffic management, says Andreas Boschen, Executive Director of the SESAR 3 JU, who is opening the conference: “Collaboration is the linchpin. No one organisation or country can bring about this digital transformation alone. With the establishment last year of our partnership, we have the means to coordinate all the stakeholders, pooling the critical mass of resources and expertise needed to deliver the Digital European Sky.”
Like many industries, aviation saw the pandemic as an opportunity to rethink and modernise with the aim of building back better than before. During a morning panel session, leading industry leaders will shed fresh light on the progress made by European aviation, but also areas where improvement is needed.
Later discussions will venture into the importance of digital solutions and their ability to deliver a new ecosystem for aviation. Here, speakers will explore whether the right infrastructure and regulatory framework are in place to harness the potential in aviation. Participants will hear what the SESAR 3 JU is doing through innovation to modernise air traffic management and boost its performance in terms of capacity, efficiency, safety and the environment.
The digital theme carries over to the afternoon in a session on mobilising the digital transformation for ATM modernisation efforts with tangible examples on display at the conference’s Digital European Sky Marketplace exhibition.
Also in the afternoon, the European Commission’s Carlos Morais Pires and Volocopter’s Dirk Hoke will take to the hot seat moderated by a recognised Brussels journalist.
A closing reflections session caps off a full day of discussions, distilling key challenges and opportunities ahead.