Thales and DSNA unveil a new vision of air traffic management with 4-FLIGHT

  • The first operational implementation of 4-FLIGHT, the En-Route management system at the East Area Control Centre (ACC), was inaugurated in Reims on December 8, 2022.
  • 4-FLIGHT is a new-generation air-traffic control system designed to ensure a smoother flow of flights, while being more environmentally friendly. It is the result of the close collaboration between the French Air Navigation Service Provider (DSNA) and Thales, the world leader provider in air traffic management.
  • Marseille ACC has just implemented 4-FLIGHT on 6 December 2022. The next key steps are the extension to the other three En-Route centres by 2025.

As part of the modernization of France's air-traffic management system (ATM), Thales and the Direction des Services de la Navigation Aérienne (DSNA) inaugurated, in the presence of Clément BEAUNE, the French Minister of Transport, the first operational commissioning of the 4-FLIGHT system at the Reims ACC, the first deployment site for the program. This system, which takes into account the most recent regulatory requirements in terms of cybersecurity and safety, is one of the most advanced stripless Air Traffic Control systems in Europe.

4-FLIGHT

4-FLIGHT comes equipped with an intuitive Human-Machine Interface (HMI), the latest generation of equipment, as well as innovative and sophisticated tools to support flight management and safety, making it one of the most advanced stripless Air Traffic Control systems in Europe for high-density airspace.

The advanced Flight Data Processing system, Coflight, at the heart of 4-FLIGHT, provides air traffic controllers with more accurate forecasts of 4D flight trajectories, enabling them to better optimize air routes and contribute to sustainable aviation. With Coflight, the controller has a better-planned and optimised aircraft trajectory, resulting in shorter flight times and lower fuel consumption and emissions.

With 4-FLIGHT, air traffic controllers can focus on their essential tasks, thus improving flight safety and efficiency.

4-FLIGHT, registered as a SESAR (1) Solution, is interoperable with other European air navigation systems and strengthens the coordination between civil and military controllers for flight safety. At short term, the operational performance of this new ATM system would be of immediate benefit not only to France and the FABEC (2) airspace but also to the entire European network. Indeed, 4-FLIGHT is connected to ten Air Navigation Service Providers neighbouring France: ENAIRE (ESP), DGAC Algeria, ENAV (IT), Skyguide (CH), DFS (DE), the Maastricht UAC (EUROCONTROL), Skeyes (BE), ANA (LUX), NATS (UK), IAA (IRL) and the Network Manager (EUROCONTROL).

4-FLIGHT, which is co-funded by the European Union within the Single European Sky technical modernisation programme, meets innovative European concepts such as the Free Route and new environmental efficiency requirements.

Marseille ACC, the other pilot-centre, has just implemented 4-FLIGHT on 6 December 2022. DSNA has scheduled to extend the use of 4-FLIGHT to the three other ACCs in France by 2025. Air traffic controllers will then be able to operate with a single system over the entire French upper airspace, covering one million km².

Florian GUILLERMET, DSNA CEO, said: “This success is a source of pride for DSNA staff who have been very involved in this complex ATM project. The implementation in 2022 of 4-FLIGHT at Reims UAC, then at Marseille ACC proves the commitment of DSNA to pursue its technological modernization to deliver the challenges of the Digital European Sky, and high-quality and more competitive service. This represents a major European air navigation milestone for the sustainable recovery of air transport!”

Christian RIVIERRE, Vice President of Airspace Mobility Solutions Business Line, Thales said: “We are very proud at Thales to have contributed to the deployment of 4-FLIGHT in Reims. This is the result of a strong mobilization and collaboration between all the DSNA and Thales teams. Together, we have been able to transform our way of working, becoming much more agile, to deliver even more quality and operational value. We still have other important milestones in the coming months, and I am confident that we will deliver them successfully by maintaining this spirit of trust and transparency between our two organizations.”

Mariagrazia La Piscopia, Executive Director, SESAR Deployment Manager “I am happy to witness today the successful implementation of 4-FLIGHT, a perfect example of how SESAR Air Traffic Management modernization projects are deployed into concrete operational benefits by stakeholders truly thinking and acting as one team. Congratulations to DSNA and Thales for their ongoing efforts to modernize and digitalize Air Traffic Management in France. This SESAR Deployment Manager coordinated project will now be able to deliver concrete benefits to pilots, air traffic controllers and passengers in Europe.”

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1- SESAR means the Single European Sky for ATM Research. This innovative public-private partnership is the technological pillar of the SES.

2 - FABEC means the Functional Airspace Block for Europe Central. The airspace of the six FABEC States of Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland is one of the busiest and most complex in the world. FABEC airspace covers 2 million km² and handles about 55% of European air traffic. Winner of the ATM 2020 Research, Innovation and Environment Award.

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