The SESAR 2020 Knowledge Transfer Network (2018-2022) was coordinated by:
University of Westminster, EUROCONTROL, European Aviation Safety Agency, Frequentis, Innaxis, Technical University Delft, University of Belgrade – Faculty of Transport and Traffic Engineering, University of Trieste.
Engage was managed by a consortium of academia and industry, with the support of the SESAR JU, to promote and facilitate the development of air traffic management research in Europe.
Our focus was two-fold: inspiring new researchers and helping to align exploratory and industrial research, through a wide range of activities and financial support actions.
Engage has been an outward-facing network, advancing innovation and collaboration. The participation of new industry partners were welcome to join the growing group.
The definition of various thematic challenges was at the core of the KTN: new ideas suggested by the research community, not already included within the scope of an existing SESAR project. These were developed along with the ATM concepts roadmap and complementarily with some of the network’s PhDs. Each challenge had one or more dedicated thematic workshops, and dedicated activities at the SIDs. To further promote cooperation between industry and academia, 18 focused projects supported by catalyst funding were awarded to groups (for example, an industry partner and an academic institution) to conduct specific activities in support of developing solutions to the thematic challenges, moving closer towards industry goals and objectives, and higher TRLs. The funding could be used, for example, to hold several technical meetings to develop ideas further, to carry out additional data analyses or a user requirements survey.
The knowledge hub (EngageWiki) is the one-stop, go-to source for information: a single European point of entry for ATM knowledge. With improved search functionality, researchers may turn to the hub as an accessible meta-source of research data, and to contact other researchers to combine disciplines and share ideas. Industry partners may seek inspiration from exploratory and unconventional research and promote their application towards the operational context. The knowledge hub also hosts the network’s research repository, an interactive research map of ATM, the ATM concepts roadmap, a database of European university programmes plus the KTN’s community interaction forum.
Engage has stimulated the transfer of suitable exploratory research towards application-oriented research, paving the way for potential industrial research. It identified the maturity of research results, facilitating the link with higher-maturity research (e.g. within the SESAR industrial research programme). Lessons learned regarding barriers to, and enablers of, the transfer to higher TRLs have been disseminated. The KTN helped support better collaboration with industry and researchers early in the concept development stages, ensuring that the potential of new concepts was recognised. These support actions included: (1) getting researchers in different research areas talking to each other more; (2) giving researchers better access to information; and, (3) cataloguing and mapping research in a more useful way (EngageWiki). Researchers with common objectives have been able to find peers and other projects/initiatives more easily. The KTN has fostered links with a variety of disciplines to improve insights into ATM system functionality and performance. Interdisciplinarity and cross-fertilisation have been incorporated into 14 thematic workshops, ten PhDs, three summer schools and four SESAR Innovation Days. Engage has encouraged the exploration of innovative and unconventional ideas and research directions in ATM.
Engage supported and facilitated the development of a future ATM skilled workforce able to keep innovating and improving the ATM system. Excellence in education and training is a pre-requisite for attracting top-level talent to the ATM sector. Engage attached very high priority to developing free educational and training materials that will stimulate the interest of a new generation of operational and engineering staff to pursue careers in ATM and airports and to enhancing the opportunities of postgraduate students to participate and contribute to ATM research, including multi-faceted support for the PhDs (with exceptional mentoring from the consortium and the industry partners). Underpinning this programme has been the KTN’s summer schools and thematic workshops, and integration with the SESAR Innovation Days.