Shared Virtual Sky: Leading the Way Toward Enhanced European Air Traffic Management

One of the most challenging aspects of learning to fly is getting used to the radio communications.  Even as an experienced aviator going to a new area where they have different procedures, or even just a different lingo can be difficult.  I have long wondered why there are not more intertwined systems to help pilots, and air traffic controllers practice this more.

Apparently I was not the only one thinking this as Airbus’ ProSky is in the process of developing just such a system.  The full details can be found in the press release below.

It is amazing how much of an impact this could have on the quality of training.

For example, I spent about a year going through military flight training and became quite adept at communicating over the radios.  I then followed that up with about four months in simulators where the only radio chatter was from our crew and the instructors.  When I returned to the flight line to resume real flying it took me at least a week of flights to get back to where I felt comfortable with the radio communications again.

They obviously have much bigger plans than just to practice communications with this system, but if it does nothing more than make the training more realistic, then I think it is worth the cost.

Airbus ProSky is taking a high-profile role in developing Europe’s first airspace simulation platform that will be available to the aviation sector – which is called Shared Virtual Sky, and allows for accelerated innovation as well as the ability to test new air navigation concepts for improved safety and fluidity.

20 February 2013 Shared Virtual Sky is an innovative response to challenges facing the aviation sector. It enables multiple participants to connect their simulators to a completely realistic real-time environment, where test pilots and air traffic controllers can work together – while each are based in their respective cockpits or control towers.

Airbus ProSky – the air traffic management subsidiary of Airbus – and Paris-based Steria signed an agreement with nine additional partners for the system’s advancement, following completion of a collaborative research & development project. The nine other partners include: Aerospace Valley, Airbus, DSNA, ENAC, Thales, Oktal SAS, CGX AERO, Alticode and Intespace.

Under terms of the accord, Airbus ProSky will handle the promotion and marketing of Shared Virtual Sky – which has its origins in the Gaia Virtual Sky project launched by Aerospace Valley in 2007; while Steria will be responsible for operating it as a software service.

This solution supports the European Commission’s efforts to modernise air traffic management systems through its Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR) project, which seeks to develop a world-class integrated air traffic navigation system. Ten industry leaders currently are conducting experiments as part of the SESAR project, and five participants are negotiating to join the SVS platform in 2013 to validate their new ideas.

The Shared Virtual Sky technology also can be adapted to other industries that face similar challenges with respect to interconnection and interoperability of systems.