Artificial Intelligence in Air Navigation: Transforming the Future of Traffic Control and Beyond

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has emerged as a transformative force, reshaping our interaction with technology. In the realm of air navigation, AI applications are driving remarkable advancements, bolstering operational efficiency, and elevating safety standards. At its core, AI empowers machines to learn from data, aiding humans in their tasks and performing functions that traditionally required human intervention. In aviation, this translates into the development of smarter, more efficient solutions that enhance decision-making and streamline operations management.

Numerous ongoing projects hold the promise of significant improvements in safety, efficiency, capacity, and sustainability. Some notable initiatives include:

• AI-Based Weather Prediction:
• AI-Enabled Tactical FMP Hotspot Prediction and Resolutions
• Automatic Speech Recognition:
• Conflict Resolution Advisory:
• Hotspot Identification and Resolution (Short-Term)

Since 2019, Ingenav has been actively involved in various projects, including:

• CORA (Conflict Resolution Advisory): Proposes solutions to detected conflicts that uses big data, machine learning and a scoring module to privilege solutions based on pre-set business objectives.
• FEED: Highlights early identification of future hotspots and proposes efficient resolutions aligned with business objectives.
• R4 (Ready for): Provides safe and efficient support in nominal conditions (climbs / descents/ transfers) and augments trajectory prediction algorithms and downlinked intelligence
• ADA (Anomaly Detector): Supports ATCOs in the detection of anomalies related to flows and individual trajectories. Augments other anomaly detection functionalities (e.g. route or level adherence monitoring) and reduces cognitive workload by providing early warnings for anomalies (earlier than human)
(the 4 projects above are grouped under the name CHarlie – view video on:
• AI-enabled tactical FMP hotspot prediction and resolution (ASTRA): ASTRA aims to bridge the gap between the FMP and the en-route ATCO planner position by developing an AI-based tool which can predict and resolve ATC hotspots earlier than today. The tool will yield benefits in the areas of capacity at ATC unit level, efficiency, safety improvements, “green” business trajectories and more predictable operations. (

We are committed to be part of advancements that redefine the future of air navigation and to influence it as much as possible in the direction of human machine teaming and human centricity.

In the dynamic landscape of AI implementation in aviation, where clear regulatory frameworks are still evolving, it becomes paramount to exercise due diligence. At Ingenav, we understand the importance of compliance and the need for meticulous validation processes, including the pursuit of Explainable AI (XAI). We also emphasize the importance of being proactive in adhering to industry standards.

Our belief at Ingenav is that AI is not here to replace humans but to complement us in a human-machine teaming approach. Together, we can navigate the future of air navigation, combining the best of human expertise with the transformative power of Artificial Intelligence.

Ingenav expertise extends from creating operational concepts to conducting operational validations, which ensures that AI solutions meet operational expectations. This makes Ingenav uniquely positioned to provide guidelines through this intricate journey.


Let’s talk about capacity

How many aircraft a runway or an ATC can handle per hour or per any amount of time is a key piece of information that every ATC and ANSP should know.

Capacity has its own chapter in ICAO doc 4444 where it says The number of aircraft provided with an ATC service shall not exceed that which can be safely handled by the ATC unit concerned under the prevailing circumstances. In order to define the maximum number of flights which can be safely accommodated, the appropriate ATS authority should assess and declare the ATC capacity for control areas, for control sectors within a control area and for aerodromes.”

This of course makes a lot of sense and sounds very easy that an ATC service shall handle only the amount of traffic that can safety handle. But how is this number obtained?

Different states and ANSP have different ways of calculating and expressing capacity, but they all share some same principles.


They all recognize that there are at least, some group of variables that will affect the Runway or Sector Capacity and these are shown in ICAO DOC 9971:

Capacity output

Once the variables have been qualitatively identified, it is time to transform them into qualitative values… but what is our desired output?

Skybrary speaks about three main methods to describe a sector’s capacity:

  • Entry counts: Capacity is expressed in maximum aircraft that are handled per time unit, usually one hour (e.g. 30acft/hour)
  • Frequency occupancy: Capacity is expressed in maximum number of aircraft on the frequency (e.g. 20 acft at the same time)
  • Controller workload: This method is based on an assessment of how much time the controller needs to perform all necessary tasks.

 Which one is the best? There is no single right answer; that will depend on what one is looking for and the operational context.

Capacity Calculation

Once we know the variables and our desired output, we can perform our capacity calculation.

Again there are several methodologies to perform capacity calculations, where some are based on recollection of data on the operation such as sector flight times, frequency times, etc., others are based on running fast time simulations and others in using simplified methods for faster results.

An analogy could be made with the validation process for a new airspace:

Next Steps

I have calculated my capacity! What now?

Having calculated your capacity is only the first step. It is important to keep in mind the number and the variables as it is not a fixed value and it might change during the operation.

There are several actions that can be performed once capacity has been calculated, but probably the most common one is to compare it against the predicted demand and, if it is detected that demand will be greater than the capacity, take some actions to further increase the capacity or to regulate the demand.

Of course, there are many other actions and assessments that can be performed, but for sure having this value is required.


At INGENAV we can help you with:

  • Runway and ATC Sector Capacity Assessments
  • Runway and ATC Sector Training
  • Runway and ATC Capacity Consultancy

Moreover, Ingenav is certified in ISO 9001:2015 for Design and Delivery of Training in Air Navigation and  Consulting in Air Navigation as well as is a Training Organization for Air Traffic Control training in accordance with EU regulation 340-2015.

The importance of Quality for Air Navigation Service Providers

“My service has the best quality”, “We offer the best quality service to our customers”, “Our service is guaranteed by quality”. Have you ever heard that? Most probably you have. Quality is a word that we hear in everyday and in relation to many different fields, from buying a new TV, hiring a new internet provider, or even playing sports.

What about the Air Navigation Industry? Quality of service has been a subject for several years now and perhaps more related with Aeronautical Information Management (AIM), Safety Management Systems (SMS) and Flight Procedures Design (FPD), not to mention Service Level Agreements (SLA), but is that all?

Let’s develop a little further:

What is Quality?

Even though there are many definitions for Quality, a good starting point would be ISO’s definition:

“Degree to which a set of inherent characteristics of an object fulfils requirements.”

This means that quality depends on the requirements of what is intended to be done (Good or Service) and how we achieve these requirements. This simple sentence implies a lot, and it brings the possibility to plan, do, check, act, and plan again to fulfil our goal.



Process in Quality

Basically, a process are series of actions or steps taken to achieve a particular end.

In this way of thinking there are 3 basic phases:

  • Input: Where the goods, data, service or whatever we need to produce are collected
  • Process: Where the input is transformed into something new
  • Output: Where the final product is presented


Let’s explore examples of this in Air Navigation Services:

  • Aerodrome data is surveyed by using its own process. The data collected (output).
  • This output will be an input for AIS/AIM where a new AIP will be made.
  • The new AIP will be a new input for Flight Procedure Designers which will produce as an output a new Procedures and Charts.
  • This Procedures and Charts will be loaded into Aircraft’s FMS and ANSP’s ATM Systems.

This chain of inputs and outputs looks perfect in theory but what would happen if one piece of data Aerodrome data surveyed had a mistake and was not detected?

Garbage In Garbage Out

There is a concept mainly used in IT which states that the quality of the input determines the quality of the output. In other words, the quality coming out is dependent on the quality of the input.

The importance of this concept remains in that what we do in Air Navigation Services has direct impact on the Safety of the Operations.

Keeping Operations Safe

There are many documents from different organizations about how safety is achieved, but they all agree on that Quality is required for a Safety Management System to work properly.

One of the most famous models used in safety is James Reason’s Swiss Cheese model.

In the Swiss Cheese model, an organisation’s defences against failure are modelled as a series of barriers, represented as slices of the cheese.

The holes in the cheese slices represent individual weaknesses in individual parts of the system and are continually varying in size and position in all slices.

The system produces failures when holes in all of the slices momentarily align, permitting “a trajectory of accident opportunity”, so that a hazard passes through holes in all of the defences, leading to an accident.

Usually, an organisation’s defences can be described in 3 categories:

  • Technology
  • Procedures
  • Human Competence

This defences work as an input for the safety process, therefor it is fundamental to have an excellent quality on them.

How can an ANSP make sure that their input for safety will have the required quality

There are 2 basic ways:

  • If Technology, Competence acquisition (training) or Procedures are contracted from another provider, make sure that the provider has at least an ISO 9001 certification and not only a “generic” specification but with a specific mention in the required process.
  • If Technology, Training or Procedures will be performed in house, have these process certified.

INGENAV and Quality Certification

Ingenav has been certified in ISO 9001:2015 for its quality management system since 2016, and not just certified in a general way, but specifically in:

  • Design and Delivery of Training in Air Navigation
  • Consulting in Air Navigation

This means that what INGENAV does, regarding Training and Consultancy, has Certified Quality and will fulfil the customer’s requirements.

Moreover, since 2018 Ingenav is also certified as a Training Organisation for Air Traffic Control training in accordance with EU regulation 340-2015.


Air Navigation Services ORAT: Operational Readiness and Transition

What is an ORAT?

Changes bring opportunities but they also bring risks. In safety and time critical environments, these risks, if unmanaged, can have very serious consequences.

Operational Readiness and Transition (ORAT) is a methodology that provides a framework for managing the risk that changes bring with it, be it due to changes in facilities, configuration or procedures. This methodology also aims at harnessing the opportunities that the same changes bring. ORAT is a methodology highly used in changes affecting airport operations. It can equally be applied to other changes in the aviation industry such as those affecting Air Navigation Services.

A typical project focus is on construction delivery and completion of a static asset (cost, time and quality), operational readiness is focused on the dynamic state of a business operation, integrating all of the diverse moving parts into one, cohesive, dynamic operation.

An ORAT is used mainly because it:

Ensures smooth start / transition of operations.

• Provides controlled and managed planning, preparation and execution of operational readiness processes.

Integrates all stakeholders (air navigation services (management and staff), airport operations, regulation and certification, airlines, handling, etc.) 

Ensures buy-in and safe and efficient process

ORAT Components

Every project is different; however usually an ORAT will have the following elements:

ORAT Components
ORAT Components

It is important to remark that each of these elements has a purpose in the ORAT process and it should be properly handled.

Also, an ORAT will require excellent coordination between Operational, Technical and Safety/Regulatory parties.

Human Centric Approach

We believe that the best way of doing an ORAT is keeping in mind that Humans are always a key part, as we are the ones who are involved in every operation.

The various ORAT sub-phases such as Concept, Procedures, Safety, Training, Shadowing have also the objective of permitting the main actors (e.g. Management, Operations, Engineering, Safety Management, Regulatory Oversight, etc.) to gain confidence in the system, therefore, increasing the acceptance of the system as a whole and increasing the chances of a successful transfer of knowledge.

ORATs aim not only to prepare everything for operations but also to transfer essential knowledge on procedures, training and safety management as well as transition management to the staff during the process.

INGENAV we are confident that when a big change will happen, an ORAT is a key element for a successful transition into the new operation environment.

We base this on our knowledge and in our experience of previous projects where with the use of ORAT, successful implementations have taken place.