Europe launches second phase SESAR ECHO project to integrate higher airspace operations

The SESAR3 Joint Undertaking ECHO2 project held its first meeting at Eurocontrol headquarters, continuing the work to develop a European Concept of Higher Airspace Operations.

ECHO is a SESAR 3 JU project co-funded by the EU designed to enable safe, efficient and scalable operations above conventional flight levels, and led by Eurocontrol.

Phase 1 successfully concluded in July 2023 with ECHO delivering a Higher Airspace Operations Concept of Operations.

Phase 2 will see ECHO2 propose validated solutions that pave the way towards the operational integration of HAO into air traffic management in three directions:

1. A Space Launch Real Time Monitoring Module and associated working station for the Eurocontrol Network Manager for increased situational awareness at network level, supporting air traffic flow management as well as crisis and contingency management.

2. A Procedural Package to integrate High-Altitude Platform Systems (HAPS) operations into ATM, covering specific ground and air-ground operational integration issues (including for communications, navigation and surveillance CNS means).

  1. A Procedural Package to integrate supersonic, hypersonic and suborbital vehicle operations into ATM, covering specific ground and air-ground operational integration issues (including for CNS).

These solutions will propose all the elements needed by operational stakeholders for a safe, rapid, harmonised and cost-effective implementation of HAO into the European aviation network, at TRL6 maturity. They will also include assessments of potential specific related standardisation and regulatory activities.

“Validating operational interfaces between space traffic management and ATM for launch and re-entries is a hugely exciting and challenging project to be working on: safely accommodating the growing HAO market & putting in place the right coordination mechanisms between ATM & STM is increasingly essential as the range of new and future vehicles looking to operate in higher airspace continues to grow, and as operators look to exploit new commercial opportunities,” says Dragos Tonea, Head of Eurocontrol’s iNEO (Integration of New Entrants in the European ATM Network Operations) and SESAR ECHO2 Project Manager.

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