The 4D ATM system, when proven and industrialized, will enable aircraft to plan and fly an optimized, efficient profile without any need for the controllers to provide any vectoring instruction. It will bring better predictability of the traffic flows and facilitate Continuous Descent Operations into airports; as a result, aircraft flying in a holding pattern will be notably reduced, says a representative.
I-4D trajectory management relies on an aircraft function that predicts and transmits data to the ground. The aircraft can then fly a 4D-trajectory--described in three dimensions (lateral, longitudinal, and vertical) with one target time at a specific merging point (time as the fourth dimension)--after coordination with the ground systems.
I-4D is considered the first step in developing one of the essential pillars of the SESAR program, conciliating the increasing traffic density with the efficiency of flights, and is the result of several months of collaboration between SESAR partners. One of Airbus’ key roles has been to test the upgraded flight management (navigation) and communication systems and to integrate them into the real aircraft architecture.
More flight trials and simulations are planned in 2012 and 2013. The first I-4D operation is planned in Europe from 2018 onwards.