Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Air traffic management: a matter of participation

Under the PACAS project, coordinated by the University of Trento, researchers will develop a software for a participatory air traffic management

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Every year more than 1.6 billion people fly worldwide. What they want is a pleasant flight, in total safety, at an affordable price, with no delays or cancellations, and connections in modern and functional airports, with all possible comforts. 

With over 10 billion flights every year (a number that will rise to 16.9 billion by 2030), making passengers happy has become a challenge for air traffic managers: it is a very complex mechanism, and airports are the key to succeed.

In Europe alone there are 425 airports, employing more than 58,000 people (Eurocontrol annual Report 2014). Their tasks include ensuring safety, reducing management costs, dealing with logistics and improving efficiency and comfort.

However, for airports to function efficiently, all the activities that take place there must be well coordinated and harmonized. Any change, albeit small, can have an impact on other procedures, causing delays, additional costs or safety risks.

Nowadays, running airports smoothly is possible, and information technologies are of great help, but participation is key.

With a participatory approach, all stakeholders can participate in the decision making process, organize the discussion and limit the risk of making bad decisions.

This approach forms the basis of the European project PACAS (Participatory Architectural Change Management in ATM Systems), which was launched with the purpose of creating a participatory IT system able to support a better air traffic management in airports.

When the system will be in place, all the participants will be informed in advance of any change scheduled in every area and on possible consequences for their area of interest.

With 1 million euro funding from Horizon 2020, the two-year PACAS project is part of SESAR (Single European Sky ATM Research), a wider action plan and an initiative launched by the European Union to create, in the next 30 years, a safer and smoother air transport system.

The PACAS project is coordinated by the University of Trento, which has a leading role with the Department of Information Engineering and Computer Science (in particular, the research team led by Paolo Giorgini) and the Department of Economics and Management (through Roberta Cuel and Diego Ponte).

The University of Trento extended the project to other international partners: Stiftelsen SINTEF, a Norwegian research centre, the University of Utrecht (Netherlands) and Deep Blue srl.

The official presentation of the PACAS project, with all partners present, will be on Thursday 17 March at the department of Sociology and Social Research. The project will last two years.

For more information on the project:
prof. Paolo Giorgini
Department of Information Engineering and Computer Science
tel. 0461-282052 paolo.giorgini [at]