4-FLIGHT, the most innovative ATM system in Europe

Published on Wednesday 16 December 2020

Increasing the efficiency of the European Air Traffic Management (ATM) systems is one of crucial objectives of the Single European Sky. They shall be more performant to absorb safely the high increase in air traffic demand in Europe by 2020. In 2016, for the first time in its history, the French air navigation services exceeded 3 million controlled flights, setting a new record for air traffic in Europe. With 4-FLIGHT, DSNA builds an essential block for futher modernisation of a Core European airspace.

4-FLIGHT est un système défini par la DSNA et développé par Thales, le leader mondial dans la gestion du trafic aérien (ATM). Il équipera les 5 centres de contrôle en-route français. Cet outil de contrôle stripless (sans strip papier), de nouvelle génération, intègre Coflight, le système avancé de traitement des données de vol, une interface homme-machine (HMI) offrant des outils de contrôle innovants et un environnement de simulation pour la période de formation des contrôleurs. L’un des premiers bénéfices attendus est une augmentation d’environ 10% de la capacité globale du réseau, permettant à la DSNA d’offrir des services encore plus compétitifs, de haute qualité, à tous ses clients. En particulier, le Free Route et plus largement le concept de ‘trajectoire préférée’, sera mise en œuvre dans un espace aérien dense et complexe.  
Le projet 4-FLIGHT est cofinancé par la Commission européenne. Une délégation européenne composée de membres de la Commission, de l’agence de financement (INEA) et du gestionnaires du déploiement SESAR (SDM) ont ainsi visité le CRNA Sud-Est le 8 décembre 2016 pour mieux comprendre ce programme ambitieux.

New ATC tools, new working methods

In addition to ergonomic studies and thanks to Java technologies, sophisticated and complex support tools are integrated and accessible in a simple and intuitive way on radar displays. This guarantees consistency and readability in the displayed information. The controllers can therefore focus on their main control tasks. This HMI gives access to Coflight’s advanced functions. The main functionalities of 4-FLIGHT :

  • electronic negotiation of coordination data (“What if”) coordinates flight levels or direct routes with adjacent sectors, directly from track radar without phone calls ;
  • a full set of ATC tools to facilitate the analysis of a set of flights (SEP, QDM, CPA…) ;
  • tactical Control Tool (TCT) for conflict detection checks the clearance given by the controller within a 5-minute look-ahead timeframe ;
  • cooperative tools providing shared situational awareness allow a gain in safety and efficiency by a better sharing of the workload between Executive and Planner Controllers.

First live trials at Reims ACC and Marseille ACC

Currently, the first operational version of 4-FLIGHT is under preparation in the two pilot-control centres, Marseille and Reims. Technical and operational evaluation sessions are being carried out. During the night of 24th January 2017, Reims UAC handled, for the first time, actual air traffic using 4-FLIGHT / Coflight ; Marseille ACC performed its first live trial on the night of the 15th March 2017. Several night and day live operations will be conducted by 2018 in order to optimize the switchover process and to give operational users the possibility of gaining first-hand experience with the new system.

4-FLIGHT 2.0 for Paris area

A new version of 4-FLIGHT is under development to take into account air traffic features for Paris area. The platform used for first experimentations in 2016 is now installed at Paris ACC in order to start the parameterization of the system and ATCOs and ATSEPs training with this new tool.

Further information