2023 Digital European Sky awards announced!

Projects addressing sustainable air traffic operations, better weather forecasting enabled by artificial intelligence and urban air mobility have received the top prizes in this year’s SESAR Digital European Sky Awards. The winners were announced on 9 June during an awards ceremony at Airspace World, the annual gathering of the global ATM industry. 

A distinguished panel of aviation representatives evaluated some thirty contributions to make a shortlist of the nine most exemplary projects in three categories: exploratory research, industrial research and very large-scale demonstrations. A People’s Choice Award was also handed out following votes cast by the audience during the ceremony at Airspace World.

The winning projects were recognised for demonstrating excellence in technological innovation, their potential to have a positive long-term impact on ATM performance, as well as their overall contribution to the SESAR programme.

Picking up the award in the exploratory research award category, the ISOBAR project was recognised for prototyping a storm forecaster tailored to air traffic management and a user-driven mitigation plan that takes into account flow constraints and network effects. The set of weather management boosters includes a neural network that integrates convective prediction into a structured airspace map, together with a set of AI modules, such as AI-based hotspot detection and adaptive mitigation measures, to support decision-making by the human operator.

Coming out top in the industrial research award category was the 4DSkyways project. Over the past two years, it advanced trajectory management (TM) solutions in support of the roll-out of trajectory-based operations (TBO), a critical enabler for greener and more efficient air traffic tested by controllers operations. The solutions, which were intensively tested by controllers and flight crew, allow for faster data exchange between the air and ground, as well as improved conflict detection and resolution.

In the very large-scale demonstration category, SAFIR-Med was recognised for its successful demonstration of emergency medical service delivery by drones. The project carried out a series of demos in the cities of Maastricht, Aachen, Hasselt, Heerlen and Liège showing how drones can be used to support Europe’s healthcare system. The results of this working is helping to accelerate the adoption of drones into the healthcare system in a safe, sustainable and socially acceptable way.

The ALBATROSS very large scale demonstration received the the People’s Choice Award. With over 1,000 flight trials, the project showed how to make more energy-efficient trajectories an everyday reality. The project has already brought optimised descent and climb operations to Paris airports that can reduce fuel use by up to 7% according to project lead Airbus, and Amsterdam Schiphol is on a pathway to zero emission taxi operations by 2030 with tests underway using autonomous tow trucks.

Presenting the winners with their awards, Andreas Boschen, Executive Director, said: “I would like to congratulate the winners, as well as all the nominees for their outstanding work and dedication to delivering best-in-class innovative solutions for air traffic management. The winning projects are emblematic of the work underway to deliver smarter and more sustainable air transport, across all three strands of research which make up the SESAR innovation pipeline.”

See pictures and the full list of winners here