I-4D Test Flight Has
Major Implications For Safety And Efficiencies
By Steve Hall
February 25, 2012 - An historic test flight, which took
place over Europe, has major implications for improving
safety and fuel efficiencies as well as reducing flight
times and CO2 emissions.
The Initial-4D concept includes four dimensions;
lateral, longitudinal, vertical and time. It uses
airborne computed predictions in the air traffic ground
systems to establish, far in advance, a sequence for all
aircraft converging to a merging point in a congested
With I-4D, controllers receive the four-dimensional intent of an aircraft via an ADS-C downlink. They can then ensure that the ground and air expectations are the same by checking, and where necessary up linking, the lateral and vertical path.
be necessary to further constrain the flight at a fix, a time
constraint that meets both the ground requirements and is
achievable by the aircraft can be coordinated. Once this has
been agreed, the aircraft can optimize its profile to fly the
path in the most economic and environmental way.
concept has been refined and approved, aircraft will progress in
four dimensions, sharing accurate airborne predictions with the
ground systems. It will also be able to meet time constraints at
specific waypoints with high precision when the traffic density
Brennan, Chief Executive Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) said
that the I-4D would bring the industry a step closer to its
ultimate SESAR goal of full 4D operations, where airlines and
Air Navigation Service Providers agree, before the flight, on a
4D trajectory covering the whole flight.
significantly benefit air traffic in medium to high traffic
density areas, thanks to better predictability of air traffic.
Better air traffic management will decrease delays and increased
punctuality is good for everyone, the passengers, the airliners,
the environment and the society," he said.
This flight trial was the first live demonstration of an initial four-dimensional flight, and a key element of the SESAR program towards 4D trajectory management. It is expected that, subject to successful tests and developments, the first Airbus aircraft with the I-4D capability will be in service around 2018. If everything works smoothly it will be implemented by the industry from 2016 and onwards.
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