Technological change in ATM has historically developed at a slow pace. The reasons are multiple: the very demanding safety requirements, the coordination effort required to harmonise standards around the world, the interdependencies between ground and airborne technologies, the monopolistic nature of air navigation service provision and the relatively small size of the global ATM market compared to other technology markets are among the factors that explain, at least in part, why ATM technological modernisation has traditionally followed a slow, evolutionary path. In recent years, the need to accelerate ATM technological change has become more and more evident: growing traffic demand and new market entrants, such as commercial drone applications, are rapidly taking the ATM system to its limits, calling for disruptive solutions able to boost the performance of ATM operations. Emerging technologies, especially digitalisation and automation, have the potential to facilitate this urgently needed technological upgrade. However, technology evolution is a necessary but not sufficient condition: innovation is a complex phenomenon, which depends not only on the development of new technologies, but also on the existence of regulation and institutions able to facilitate and foster the implementation of such technologies.
ITACA’s vision is that of a European ATM system that incorporates the most advanced technologies in a dynamic and agile way to drive continuous innovation, deliver enhanced performance and adapt to changing market needs. The project aims to shed light on the drivers and barriers for the adoption of new technologies in ATM, with the ultimate goal of supporting the identification, formulation and implementation of policies and regulations that accelerate ATM modernisation. To this end, ITACA will bring together the wide body of theory on technology adoption developed in the field of industrial organisation with the state-of-the-art in computational behavioural economics and participatory simulation, in an attempt to provide a rich, multifaceted analysis able to capture the complexity of the ATM R&I lifecycle. The specific objectives of the project are the following:
Identify the main drivers and barriers for technological change in ATM and devise a set of policy measures and regulatory changes with the potential to lower such barriers and incentivise faster technology upgrade.
Develop an agent-based model of the R&I lifecycle allowing the representation of the complex decisions and interactions between ATM stakeholders and their impact on the development and implementation of new technologies.
Validate the behavioural assumptions of the agent-based model through a set of participatory simulation experiments involving the direct participation of ATM stakeholders.
Demonstrate and evaluate the potential of the newly developed methods and tools through a set of policy assessment exercises that will analyse the impact of a variety of policies and regulatory changes aimed at accelerating technology change in ATM, with particular focus on the distributional effects of the proposed policies across ATM stakeholders and society at large.
Consolidate the methods, tools and lessons learnt delivered by the project into a coherent policy assessment framework and a set of policy recommendations, and provide guidelines for the future maintenance, evolution and use of the proposed framework.
The overall concept proposed by ITACA is summarised in the following figure.