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Keith D. Wichman and Joel K. Klooster, GE Aviation, Grand Rapids, Michigan USA
Okko F. Bleeker Rockwell Collins, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Richard M. Rademaker, Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands

Abstract flights. Plans for the project’s expansion of these

experiments are also discussed.
4-Dimensional (4D) Trajectory-Based
Operations (TBO) are viewed as a key enabler for
future air operations by both SESAR1 and Introduction
NextGen2. The European Commission project NUP Trajectory-Based Operations utilize the 4D
2+3 has created a unique infrastructure that provides Trajectory of the aircraft; i.e. the planned location
the networking of real-time 4D Trajectory (4DT) of the aircraft in space and time. This is a change
data created by GE Aviation’s (formerly Smiths from the present ‘clearance-based control’
Aerospace) B737 Flight Management System dependent on observation of the aircraft current
(FMS) with air traffic management functions during state, to trajectory-based control, with the goal of
revenue flights. This FMS has been modified to allowing the aircraft to fly along the user-preferred4
output and downlink an implementation of the trajectory. This concept is fundamental to several
ARINC 702A-1 “Trajectory Bus”, making the NextGen Operational Improvements, such as:
FMS-predicted 4DT available to controllers on the
ground. This provision of the aircraft 4DT to the • Continuous Descent Approach (CDA)
Air Navigation Service Provider (ANSP) has • Enhanced Arrival/Departure Routing and
enabled a set of TBOs in Sweden including 4DT- Access
based arrival management with time-based
• Arrival Time-Based Metering via
metering to the runway threshold, application of
ANSP/Aircraft Collaboration
Required Time of Arrival (RTA) to fine-tune this
arrival management, and 4DT enabled Advanced--
Continuous Descent Arrivals (A-CDA) , referred to TBO is called a ‘critical NextGen capability
as “Green Approaches” by the project. that addresses current performance gaps in the
The NUP2+ project goals include facilitating areas of capacity, productivity, efficiency, and
the study of 4DT performance requirements, safety’ [1]. TBO is based on the concept that
associated 4DT air/ground networking requirements aircraft can generate an accurate prediction of the
and producing operational flight data to support complete 4D path to be flown and then guide the
further studies. To begin to produce such study aircraft to this reference path with precision. An
data, a series of controlled Trajectory Evaluation unambiguous representation of this reference
Flights was conducted by the NUP2+ project in trajectory may also be delivered via suitable
December 2006. This paper presents an overview network mechanisms to other users in the airspace
of the motivation, objectives, experiment conduct, system - including the ANSP - where it can be
and preliminary data analysis of this initial set of unambiguously reconstructed. This trajectory then
forms the basis for traffic flow management, de-
confliction with other aircraft trajectories, and other
system services. Through this exchange of aircraft
Single European Sky ATM Research program in Europe trajectories, today’s first-come, first-served ATC
NextGen refers to the USA’s Next Generation Air system will be replaced by a system comprising
Transportation System program led by the Joint Planning and
Development Office (JPDO)
NUP2+ is a European Commission partially-funded program
and whose full name is the “Northern European ADS-B User “preferred” in the sense of optimized to operator
Network Update Program phase 2+”. economical criteria

1-4244-1108-4/07/$25.00 ©2007 IEEE.

coordinated 4D trajectory plans which are then installed throughout the SAS B737 fleet and
executed, monitored, and managed. Any conflicts includes improved RTA and predictions capabilities
between these trajectories are resolved ahead of to support further TBO evaluations.
time via the negotiation of trajectory revisions
(controller vectoring by exception only), thus
allowing the operator to preserve the original, The NUP2+ Project
economically optimized flight profile to the Supported by the European Commission,
maximum extent possible. NUP2+6 is an ATM project focusing on validating
and performing pre-operational activities in the
The necessary trajectory exchange is expected
field of 4D trajectories in combination with
to be enabled by System Wide Information
Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast
Management (SWIM). SWIM is described as ‘a
(ADS-B). The initial project work dates back to
framework enabling authorized applications and
1996 when the term ADS-B was first introduced.
services to reliably and securely share information’
[2]. This network-centric trajectory-based system is The program includes airlines (SAS and
discussed in detail by Erik Theunissen, et al Austrian Airlines), industry (Rockwell-Collins
elsewhere in this conference’s proceedings [3]. France, GE Aviation, AVTECH, AIRBUS, Boeing,
and C4S), ANSP providers (Luftfartsverket and
AustroControl) and the Eurocontrol Experimental
Background Centre. The work includes real time trials in
In 2001, Smiths Aerospace (now GE Aviation) revenue flights and operational premises in both
conducted a series of flight trials with Scandinavian Sweden and Austria. The applications include:
Airlines (SAS) evaluating the use of their Four-
• 4DT-enabled advanced CDAs.
Dimensional Flight Management System (4-D
FMS) and its Required-Time-of-Arrival (RTA) • Enhanced Collaborative Decision
function for a future Air Traffic Management Making using ADS-B and 4D
(ATM) environment [4, 5]. The results from the 33 information
trial flights and subsequent analysis indicated that • Advanced-Surface Movement Guidance
aircraft equipped with the current generation Smiths and Control System levels 3 & 4
FMS5 can reliably predict and maintain a 4-D
• Departure Management
trajectory over an entire flight in real-world fleet
operations. Time-of-arrival errors at waypoints
located at the top of the arrival procedures were In addition, important conceptual elements,
demonstrated to be less than 7 seconds with a technical support systems, cost-benefit analysis, and
standard deviation of 4.8 seconds. In cases targeting safety systems are evaluated.
the runway with an RTA constraint, errors were
bounded to 21 seconds with a standard deviation of
12.7 seconds. This precise “runway-to-runway” The FMS and 4D Trajectory-Based
trajectory prediction and control capability is a Operations
critical building block in the evaluation of 4D TBO. The FMS onboard modern commercial
Following the 2001 flight trials, updates to the transport aircraft generate the 4D ‘business
FMS have been performed. The U10.6 FMS trajectory’7. Based on the airline flight plan and
includes an implementation of the ARINC 702A-1 any additional constraints, this trajectory defines the
Trajectory Bus, allowing the FMS’s predicted planned lateral and vertical profile of the aircraft,
trajectory to be transmitted via an ACARS datalink. including speeds and times along that profile. The
This capability enabled the TBO evaluation in the flight crew selects various airline preferred options,
NUP2+ program. FMS update U10.7 was recently including the cost index – a relationship between

The NUP2+ project website is: www.nup.nu/nup2plus/ .
5 7
The current generation Smiths FMS during the 2001 trials Business Trajectory, the European SESAR expression
was Update 10.3. referring to the operator economically optimized flight profile

time and fuel allowing the crew to balance the value speeds, maximum and idle thrust values, fuel flow,
of time and fuel for a particular flight. Constraints etc) is computed to create a user-preferred
such as altitude and speed restrictions may be added trajectory subject to applicable constraints. The
or cleared as needed. FMS’s LNAV and VNAV features will then guide
the aircraft along this trajectory by way of the
The FMS uses the current aircraft state and
automatic flight control system (AFCS). The
atmospheric data along with all crew-entered or
relationship between various components is
AOC up-linked data to generate the 4D Trajectory.
summarized in Figure 1.
The individual aircraft performance (optimal

Discrete inputs MCDU

• Flight plan data Ref trajectory
• Profile options • Embodies airline preferences
• Drag/thrust options FMC • Geometrically, time correct
• Derating options • Drives aircraft flight control
• Cost index
• Constraints AC
AC and
and engine
• AFCS Mode matrix Performance
• Aircraft weight (running) Mode ctl
• Environmental state Ref
Ref Trajectory
• Aircraft config (lift, drag)
• Engine config (thrust, bleed) AFCS
Dead Reckoning generation
generation Roll
• Air data
• Inertial data
• time Position
Position Pitch
Fixing estimator
• DME-

Figure 1. Summary of FMS and AFCS Relationships

One key benefit to using the FMS-generated shown in Figure 2. The FMS is able to accurately
trajectory relates to Continuous Descent Arrivals compute this optimum 4D descent trajectory.
(CDAs), also known as “Green Approaches”. A
Another potential benefit offered by some
CDA approach allows the aircraft to fly at idle or
FMSs is time-control. This allows the aircraft to
near-idle thrust until the final approach which
adjust and regulate its speed in order to arrive at a
compared to traditional arrivals can dramatically
specified waypoint (potentially the arrival runway)
reduce fuel burn and greenhouse gas emissions.
at a specified time, thus improving the predictability
They also have the effect of reducing noise
of the arriving aircraft. This in turn leads to an
production (as a result of lower engine thrust
improvement in runway throughput and controller
settings) as well as reducing noise projected to the
efficiency while enabling other ‘time related’
environment (as a result of keeping the aircraft
optimizations, such as collaborative decision
higher). An approach plate developed by the
making on best use of assets (gate assignments,
NUP2+ project for this type of “Green” approach is
supporting equipment and personnel).

Also, there are currently no standard
methodologies to evaluate or specify the
performance of a 4D Trajectory. While Required
Navigation Performance (RNP) standards exist for
the lateral domain, and to an extent for the vertical
domain, there are no such standards for the
temporal dimension of an aircraft trajectory.
Some key questions that should be addressed
in order to more completely understand what role
TBO may play in the future ATM system are
summarized below:
• What is the necessary and sufficient data-
set to define a trajectory?
• What is the best method of sharing this
trajectory in a SWIM environment?
• What are the trajectory update- or
refresh-rates necessary for TBO?
• How can the accuracy of a trajectory be
• What level of accuracy is necessary for
TBO, and what level of accuracy can be
achieved with current equipment?

Although this experiment cannot definitively
answer all the questions presented above, it
Figure 2. “GREEN” Approach Plate attempts to lay the ground-work to understand how
these questions may be answered. The main
FMS 4D Trajectory Evaluation objectives of this evaluation can be summarized as:
Flights • Generate basic data for 4D Trajectory
Several dedicated revenue-service 4D studies.
Trajectory data-gathering flights have been • Support the development of networking
conducted with SAS as part of the NUP2+ program. requirements for the 4D trajectory with a
This has allowed for a validation of the FMS 4D view to 4D application cycle times.
Trajectory behavior and its suitability for Trajectory • Refine flight procedures for the
Based Operations. remaining NUP2+ data collection of
flight operations.
Both SESAR and NextGen aim to increase This basis set of flight data will come from
capacity and safety while reducing the impact controlled experiments capturing the trajectory
aviation has on the environment. Conceptually it is prediction of the FMS at numerous points
clear that TBOs can play a major role in achieving throughout the flight as well as the actual 4D path
these objectives. However, a clear and concise flown. This will allow the evaluation of the
definition of what an aircraft trajectory assumption that the FMS-generated 4D flight
encompasses and how to implement it are lacking. trajectories computed during a flight will accurately
predict the flight profile for the remaining flight

portion. It is also assumed that this trajectory – could be facilitated with almost no change to any of
barring large un-forecast winds and pilot or the currently operational functions.
controller generated disturbances from the
The infrastructure at LFV comprises the
trajectory – will be stable (slowly varying at most)
Collaborative Information Exchange System
and be reliably executed by the FMS/AFCS system.
(CIES), which is used to collect the aircraft
trajectory data, perform the coordination functions
Experiment Procedure and generate any applicable constraints associated
The experiment was conducted in December, with preserving proper conflict free operation. In
2006 using SAS Boeing 737NG aircraft. The FMS the experiments, freedom of conflicts was arranged
onboard these aircraft were GE Aviation FMSs, by constraining the lateral aspect of the flight to a
Update 10.6. For the experiments, aircraft wiring standard arrival routing (STAR), while assigning a
changes had to be kept to the minimum, while time slot to the respective operation, issued in the
network access to the Swedish Air Navigation form of an RTA. The vertical aspect was ‘open’ in
Service Provider (Luftfartsverket – LFV) had to be order for a CDA to be planned by the aircraft. The
arranged using existing data link. As a result, it was resulting construct is a 4D TBO, even though in this
decided to use the SAS ACARS networks via the case effectively only the time dimension was
airline operational communications (AOC) controlled by the air traffic management function,
functions, including the SAS/Rockwell Collins the other 3 dimensions being constrained. A
HERMES data link application portal, to form the graphical depiction of this shared trajectory is
necessary interface with LFVs application shown in Figure 3. The U10.6 FMS version also
infrastructure. In order for the trajectory data to be implements the RTA feature so that the CIES RTA
available to ACARS, the FMS U10.6 software could be accepted, thus permitting the evaluation of
“copies” the Intent bus data content to a number of aircraft time-control.
words on the ACARS bus, so that network access

Figure 3. Depiction of Downlinked 4D FMS Trajectory

Due to the variability of individual pilot
actions during a flight, it was important that the
flights under evaluation be managed consistently
for experimental value. To this end, a jump-seat
observer (JSO) was present in the cockpit during
the flight to instruct and assist the crew regarding
the goals of the trial. Data was collected using a
digital audio-video camera to facilitate
conformance with test goals, identification of
anomalous behavior (such as flight plan changes,
ATC intervention, etc), actual and entered winds,
FMS prediction update events, cockpit
communications, and other events that might affect
the trajectory computation and/or stability.
In addition, the ANSP designated these flights
as “Trials Flights”, including a number of specific
procedures associated with those flights which
included refraining from speed or altitude
constraints and vectoring unless necessary for
reasons of safety. This ensured not only the desired
data quality by allowing the FMS to conduct the
entire flight with lateral and vertical navigation
coupled, but also avoided invalidating earlier
instantiations of the trajectory prediction by
subsequent tactical interventions. Green Approach
clearances were issued whenever possible, allowing
a CDA approach to be evaluated.
As mentioned, network access of the 702A-1
4D trajectory data was enabled via SAS AOC using
ACARS. Given that ACARS would not broadcast Figure 4. Flight Trials Checklist
the data, AOC issued requests for the exchange at
an interval of 3 minutes during the flight, storing
each transmission for later evaluation.
Preliminary Results
Six (6) trial flights were performed from 4 – 6
A pre-flight crew brief was conducted to December, 2006. As shown in Figure 5, the flights
assure flight deck coordination just prior to the occurred between city-pairs comprised of
flight. The JSO collected all necessary data using a Stockholm-Arlanda (ARN), Sundsvall (SDL),
digital video camera, following the general Kiruna (KRN), and Frösö (OSD). Some flights
evaluation procedure presented in Figure 4. included an “enhanced predictions” manual
procedure similar to that now automated in Update
10.7. The structure of these flights is summarized in
Table 1.

from approximately the last 75-80 minutes was
examined, while for the shorter flight the last 25-35
minutes of data was used.
The FMS-predicted time at the destination is
shown as a function of flight time remaining in
Figure 6. Observing the ETA of the first 4DT and
the last instance of the 4DT for a given flight,
differences of 93 and 66 seconds can be seen for the
long flights and differences of 34, 24, and 61
seconds during the short flights. A positive
difference means that the flight actually arrived
later than originally predicted in the previous 4DT;
a negative difference represents an earlier arrival.
On average, this would encompass an absolute
shift of 1.1 seconds per minute of the flight;
however, the shifts were not uniformly distributed
over the length of the flight.
Significant jumps of the ETA of up to 80
seconds within a 3 minute iteration cycle were
Figure 5. Location of Flight Trials observed. These jumps are caused by changes in the
flight plan, such as removal of a waypoint, or
Table 1. Trial Flight Summary changes in the cruise altitude, resulting a
corresponding reduction or increase in flight time.
Flight # City RTA Downlink / Length The biggest jumps appear mainly in the transition
Pair Video (min) from departure to cruise, or within the first 30
1 ARN No Yes / Yes 50 percent of these relatively short flights. At that
SK0044 SDL point in the flight up to an hour of time would be
2 SDL Yes Yes / Yes 50 available to ATC to coordinate and de-conflict the
SK0043 ARN movement with any other movements en route to
3 ARN No Yes /No 95 the same destination8. Of more interest are the
SK1042 KRN jumps of 1 to 6 seconds of the ETA that are seen
4 KRN No e Yes / No 95 along the whole span of the flight, which are likely
SK1045 ARN related to differences in actual and planned
5 ARN Yes e No / Yes 55 performance.
SK0072 OSD
6 OSD Yes e No / Yes 55 From Figure 6 it is visible that the actual
SK0061 ARN destination time-of-arrival is reasonably well
e predicted by the FMS. The closer the flight gets to
– Enhanced predictions procedure used.
the destination, the less deviation the ETA has from
Approximately every 3 minutes the current the actual arrival time, which means that the
FMS-generated 4DT was provided to ATC through prediction becomes more and more relevant to ATC
the network, providing an update relative to the for use in tactical evaluation.
previous instance and allowing ATC to monitor and
In addition to the ETA at destination, the
verify freedom from conflict with any other
stability of the vertical profile was also examined.
Figures 7 and 8 show the FMS-generated altitude
For these flights the dynamic behavior of the
4DTs received by ATC was studied to investigate
the stability and usability as well as conformance of 8
This is in contrast with today’s tactical vectoring, where
the actual flight. For the two longer flights the data adjustments are made at the current time, with no aircraft
control authority remaining.

trajectory at various times during Flights 2 and 3, descent path as the FMS speed was adjusted
respectively. During Flight 2 an RTA time between trajectory iterations. In the non-RTA
constraint was entered at the destination, resulting flight, the vertical profile remained very stable.
in some differences in the idle portion of the

Difference between waypoint ETA reported in 4DT and

waypoint ETA last reported (seconds)


20 SK0044
0 SK1045
-80 -70 -60 -50 -40 -30 -20 -10 0




Time before destination reached (minutes)

Figure 6. Behavior of the Destination ETA in the 4DTs over Time of Flight (Flights 1-4)


Altitude (feet)




20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90
Dis tance from De s tination (NM )

Figure 7. FMS-Generated Vertical Trajectory with RTA (10 Prediction Profiles Shown - Flight 2)




Altitude (feet)






0 100 200 300 400 500 600
Distance to Destination (NM)

Figure 8. FMS-Generated Vertical Trajectory with No RTA (11 Prediction Profiles Shown – Flight 3)

Future Experiments GE Aviation manufactures a Data Acquisition

and Replay Tool (DART), which is capable of
The flight trials performed generated a set of
capturing, storing, and replaying all message data
basis data that can be used to support future
present on up to 16 separate ARINC 429 channels
operational trials. Although the amount of data
connected to the FMS. The DART will be installed
collected was limited, it is valuable to show which
on one SAS B737 to facilitate the future
additional information would be useful and to refine
experiments. The DART system stores this data
the test procedures for future flight experiments.
along a time-line. Thus, data such as GPS
Moreover, since the previous flight trials occurred a
information (track angle, latitude, longitude), ADC
new version of the FMS, Update 10.7, has been
Data (Altitude, MACH, TAS), and other data such
certified. The U10.7 FMS contains improvements
as flap angle, distance to go, and vertical path
in the RTA time-control for time-constraints in
deviation can be recorded and compared to the
approach, as well as improved energy management
FMS-generated trajectory at a given time during the
in RTA descent.
flight. This will allow a much more complete
The flight trials recorded data useful in analysis of the 4DT accuracy and stability.
forming a basis for the FMS generated ETA
Finally, the flight trials performed in 2006
stability and accuracy, and to a smaller extent the
consisted of only a small number of flights. While
vertical trajectory stability. However, no
this is useful in generating a basis set, future trials
quantitative data was recorded to analyze the
should involve a significantly larger set of
accuracy of the 4DT. In future flight trials, it will
operational flights. This will provide a larger data
be desirable to record the actual lateral and vertical
set for quantitative analysis. In addition, this will
path flown by the aircraft as well as the FMS 4DT.
give a broader exposure to different operating
Also, the location and speed at which the crew
conditions and crew behavior that may affect the
configures the aircraft for landing (flaps, slats, and
landing gear extensions) should be recorded as this
is a large contributor to deviation from the FMS’s
4DT late in approach.

Summary References
The potential of 4-Dimensional Trajectory [1] Operational Evolution Partnership – Executive
Based Operations is recognized as a key operational Overview version 1.0, Federal Aviation
improvement in the future Air Traffic Management Administration, Washington, D.C. 2007
System. However, much research is still needed to
[2] Taylor, M.S. (2004). System-Wide Information
define and evaluate these types of operations. The
Management for Aeronautical Communications.
NUP2+ project is making use of the networking of
Proceedings of the 23rd Digital Avionics System
an FMS’s 4DT to begin to address some of the
Conference, 11D2, Salt Lake City, Utah.
questions relating to TBO.
[3] Theunissen, Erik, Richard Rademaker, Okko
The project performed flight trials with SAS
Bleeker, Keith D. Wichman, “Aircraft Trajectory
B737NG aircraft in Sweden during December,
Based Network Centric Applications”, 26th Digital
2006. These trials have generated some preliminary
Avionics Systems Conference, Dallas, Texas,
results regarding the sensitivity and stability of the
October 2007.
FMS’s vertical trajectory and time predictions.
Several of the flights also evaluated the behavior of [4] Wichman, Keith D., Göran Carlsson, Lars G.V.
time-control by establishing an RTA constraint at Lindberg, "Flight trials 'Runway-to-Runway'
the runway. The results of these trials form a basis Required Time of Arrival Evaluations for Time-
set that can be used for further evaluations. Based ATM Environment", IEEE 0-7803-7034-
1/01 2001, 20th Digital Avionics Systems
Based on the results of these preliminary flight
Conference, Daytona Beach, Florida, October 2001.
trials, further evaluations are deemed useful and
necessary to gain a more complete understanding of [5] Wichman, Keith D., Göran Carlsson, Lars G.V.
these types of TBOs. Additional flight trials will be Lindberg, "Flight trials 'Runway-to-Runway'
performed using an updated FMS with improved Required Time of Arrival Evaluations for Time-
time control in descent. More information, such as Based ATM Environment -Final Results", AIAA
the actual path flown by the aircraft and the actual 2002-4859, AIAA Guidance, Navigation, and
winds encountered, should be recorded to facilitate Control Conference and Exhibit, Monterey,
a more complete analysis of the FMS trajectory and California, August 2002.
the aircraft’s execution of that trajectory.

26th Digital Avionics Systems Conference

October 21, 2007