Improved TRAVEL – innovative Air Traffic Management (ATM) for Tiltrotor


The TRAVEL (Tilt Rotor ATM integrated Validation of Environmental Low noise procedures) project has successfully tested the insertion of fast rotorcraft into the complex air traffic scenario of Milano Terminal Area (TMA) and Malpensa (MXP) airport. Tests took place from 28 September to 2 October 2015 and were performed by SICTA (Sistemi Innovativi per il Controllo del Traffico Aereo) and IDS (Ingegneria dei Sistemi), and led by Finmeccanica Helicopter Division, within Clean Sky’s Green Rotorcraft 5 (GRC5).

Innovative PinS (Point-in-Space) instruments for flight departures and approaches, based on GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System), were designed and developed to operate rotorcraft into Milano Malpensa Control Zone (CTR) from/to airport runways or independent FATO (Final Approach and Take Off) sites. Tight (small turning radius) and steep Instrument Flight Rule (IFR) procedures up to 9 degrees of glideslope were analysed and compared to conventional 3-degree shallow trajectories: leveraging on the low-speed manoeuvring capability of rotorcraft, such environment-friendly trajectories allow the impact on populated areas to be minimised, in order to improve the flight efficiency through shortened flight paths and to reduce the noise footprint.

The goals of the piloted co-simulations were to measure the effect of the tiltrotor on MXP Air Traffic Control (ATC) operations, to evaluate new tiltrotor IFR procedures in a major airport, and to validate the low-noise tiltrotor departures and approaches in terms of pilot workload at different flying speeds and nacelle angles.

The demonstration was executed by a remote real-time connection of the ATC simulation platform at SICTA premises in Napoli Capodichino and the AW609 piloted engineering simulator AWARE at the Finmeccanica Helicopter Division site in Cascina Costa di Samarate, Varese. Three different mission scenarios were performed a number of times: qualified ATC controllers could successively cover the Ground, Tower and Approach control positions perceiving the low additional work load when dealing with the AW609 conventional and low-noise flight profiles.[MD(C)1] 

Overall, the tiltrotor’s integration into the air traffic scenario was positively judged by all the specialists: in particular, the performance and operational flexibility of the rotorcraft allows for seamless management with respect to airport and flying operations. Valuable recommendations have been gathered from the air traffic controllers and the tiltrotor’s experimental test pilot, in terms of adaptation of existing and foreseen contingency procedures in the case of simultaneous missed approaches on the FATO and the runways.



Clean Sky GRC5 team during final demonstration of TRAVEL low-noise tiltrotor procedures.