Before 2022 goes to an end, let us play educated guesswork and make predictions about what 2023 could have for the air traffic management industry... And let us come back to this post in 12 months from now to verify... how wrong we were ;-)
End of war and restart of traffic in, to and from Ukraine
This is probably wishful thinking but I can't start this post without hoping to see peace being made in Ukraine, for the people first, obviously. Seing air traffic in, to and from Ukraine would only be a nice side effect. And at FoxATM, we'll stand ready to help UkSATSE when it will be time to rebuild the country's ATM services.
No more COVID restrictions
Hopefully 2023 will see the end of COVID restrictions and traffic number will eventually recover their pre-COVID levels. However, by the time of writing, airlines are putting new control measures in place for passengers coming to Europe and the US from China and I really hope this will be lifted soon.
More traffic but also more stability
Many ANSPs suffered from strong variability in traffic over the last months. Some sectors where already at levels above 2019 while some other sill lack 40% of their pre-COVID, pre-Ukraine traffic. But beyond that, some day to day variations were hard to predict, manage and handle. Hopefully, 2023 will be more stable, or ANSPs will have to learn how to cope with instability in a way that would be sustainable in the longer term.
Remote and digital towers will become mainstream ATM
2023 should see more remote towers. Projects are running in Belgium, in France, not to mention the extension of the DFS remote tower center in Leipzig, amongst others. It took two decades from the concept phase to the operations and we should now see more and more airports being controlled remotely. But it is not all about remote, it is also about digitalisation, video processing, artificial intelligence and machine learning, as support tools for air traffic controllers.
In 2023, we could see the first digital towers located at airports, the key there not being "remote" but "digital".
An open issue with remote towers is the ability for one air traffic controller to work multiple airports at the same time. Will this become an operational reality in 2023? And if so, under which conditions? Prior Permission Required? IFR flights only?
Virtual centers will keep progressing in small increments, not going international yet
The distinction between service provision and the technical aspects will increase in 2023, with a more clear separation between ANSP and Air Navigation Data Service Providers (ADSP). Leading ANSPs like skyguide will keep progressing in small increments, decoupling the location of the back-end equipment and the controller working positions. Sectors being controllable from different centers could become more of a reality, allowing for more flexibility.
However, this should remain within a single ANSP, at least for the foreseeable future. Sovereignty and military aspects of dynamic airspace delegation will remain current topics in 2023.
U-Spaces, SORA 2.5 and national regulation will allow for more drone flights
The regulatory framework required for drone flights keeps being refined and adjusted. With U-Space concepts, SORA 2.5 and other important regulatory instruments getting released in late 2022, we are getting closer to seeing a larger number of drone flights. The applications should remain relatively local and even if CHORUS-XUAM very large demonstrations are now completed, I don't expect to see air taxis operate on a regular basis in 2023. Good transport and other utility applications, possibly, but no persons transport, especially with passengers but no pilot on board. Not yet.
More work with you
The whole team at FoxATM always looks for new challenges and opportunities and we look forward to being in touch with you and support you with your ATM questions and tasks, whatever they may be.
Happy new year from all the team!