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EUNADICS-AV lessons learned

by EUNADICS-AV consortium, September 2019


In a nutshell, please describe the key aims that the project sought to address.

Aviation is a critical infrastructure of the 21st century. Even short interruptions cause economic damage in the Billion-Euro range. As evident from the past, aviation shows certain vulnerability with regard to natural hazards, including volcanic eruptions, wild fires, dust storms and nuclear incidents and emergencies. Safe flight operations, air traffic management and air traffic control is a shared responsibility of EUROCONTROL, national authorities, airlines and pilots. All stakeholders have one common goal, namely to warrant and maintain the safety of passengers and crew to enable an efficient air traffic. Currently, however, there is a significant gap in the Europe-wide availability of real time hazard monitoring information for airborne hazards describing “what, where, how much” in 3 dimensions, combined with a near real-time European data analysis and assimilation system. In practice, this gap creates circumstances where various stakeholders in the system may base their decisions on different data and information. The main objective of our project is to close this gap in data and information availability, enabling all stakeholders to obtain fast, coherent and consistent information. This would truly facilitate the work of all stakeholders in the system, on the one hand the European Aviation Crisis Coordination Cell (EACCC), the Air Traffic Management (ATM) and Air Traffic Control (ATC) functions, and on the other hand airline flight dispatching and individual flight planning.  This new mechanism will have to take into account and create input to all existing national and international systems.


What do you think have been the most important results that have emanated from the project?

We did set up a very comprehensive evaluation exercise in Salzburg in March 2019. During this exercise, scenarios having potentially high impact on the aviation system were assumed, including a volcano eruption in Italy and nuclear incidents in Germany and Austria. By integrating the available wealth of data, tailored observations and hence improved data analysis and modelling results directly into flight planning software of the airlines, it was demonstrated that route optimization measures can be implemented at an early stage. This would allow the vast majority of the flights to be conducted without many cancellations.


How have you gone about to disseminate the key results of the project?

Personal meetings have been conducted with all identified stakeholders, including national authorities, EUROCONTROL, IIATA and ICAO Volcanic Ash Advisory Centres (VAACs). The exercise was instrumental to demonstrate practical applicability and relevance of the methods developed. We developed a platform to disseminate results, produced a brief promotion video for the public, and conducted two media events in Austria where we achieved broad coverage in national TV, radio and print media. We also disseminated to the scientific community, by submitting journal articles and organizing a dedicated session at EGU 2018 and 2019. To reach out further, we were able to set up an internationally renowned advisory board and engaged some well-connected experts to help us injecting EUNADICS-AV results in various working groups and committees.


Have you had to overcome any unexpected challenges throughout the project? Any issues or problems that you didn’t expect? If so, how did you address these issues?

It took some time to establish working practices and interfaces between the broader natural hazard science communities on one side and the more application-oriented aviation community on the other side, mostly represented in the project by flight trajectory modelers and military aviation practitioners. The intense preparatory work ahead of the exercise managed to bridge existing gaps and bring together experts that have not cooperated that closely before.


What are you most proud of from the project?

As already indicated above, we were really able to build a transdisciplinary community of natural hazard scientists and aviation practitioners that is ready to work together beyond the limited duration of the project. There is a strong commitment to generate relevant products that have the potential to really make a difference for global aviation. While current methods describe a physical hazard scenario for the airspace, our project was able to integrate an impact-oriented perspective.

Secondly, we are also proud to achieve a good working relationship with the VAACs, since volcanic ash is one of the key hazards we are dealing with.


What do you think will be the next steps for you now that the project is officially over? What will the project’s overall legacy be?

Based on the promising research results obtained, there are many options to move ahead. On one hand, a business case needs to be developed to continue EUNADICS-AV data analysis and modeling services to be seamlessly integrated in ATM, ATC and flight planning software. Clearly, the services need to be rolled out on a global rather than European scale. On the other hand, we identified further need for research where international and national funding options will be explored.


Anything else you would like to highlight from the project that you feel would be great to disseminate?

We also learned during the execution of EUNADICS-AV in communication with the engine manufacturers Rolls-Royce that aerosols and air pollution have a distinct effect on engine performance and lifetime. This means that certain routine modelling activities could be operationalized to allow the planning of flight routes that minimize maintenance costs. This should be followed up as an extra activity.


Further information can be found at CORDIS EU research results.