The PPlane concept, as a future means of air transportation, takes full benefit from the 4D contract concept. To go even further, the 4D contracts concept is a key element that underlies the feasibility of the entire PPlane system. The description hereunder gives the main elements to understand the PPlane concept; more detailed information can be found on their website.


The PPlane European project (www.pplane-project.org) aims to investigate, define and evaluate a novel Personal Air Transport System (PATS) through a systematic "out of the box" approach. The results of the project suggest that PATS can be viable if it is perceived as comparable to the private car in terms of accessibility and ease of operation
without compromising the safety of its occupants, and of the other airspace users. To this end, three areas have been investigated in the project: airworthiness to ensure reliability, pilot proficiency to ensure safe system operation, and modes of operation in order to guarantee seamless integration in airspace. PPlane system architecture includes air vehicles, ground segment installations and an air transport management system that consists of a Remote Pilot Station (RPS) that integrates with Air Traffic Control (ATC). PPlane vehicles are expected to utilize high density 4D operations airspace, supported by a dense networked environment. Unlike car drivers, piloting a plane requires three-dimensional navigation in a variety of weather conditions in dense air traffic. This makes particular skills and special education and training vital. In contrast, thanks to a high level of automation of the overall system, the PPlane "Remote Pilot" concept requires a small number of highly trained professionals, each of which will handle several PPlanes at the same time. The Remote Pilot will also be able to communicate with passengers during the flights. Passengers aboard PPlane will simply need a pre-flight travel safety briefing. Upon finalizing the PPlane concept, the team then had to consider the airworthiness of the global system - both on-board, in-flight equipment such as health monitoring systems, automated full flight management systems and human machine interfaces; and
ground equipment such as the RPS. Next, the integration of the system in the airspace with other systems was considered. The proposed solution utilizes four-dimensional, conflict free pre-set trajectories called 4D contracts. In this concept, aircraft communication with ATC is only digital, taking into advantage all possible post-SESAR functionalities of the European Transport System. A preliminary cost analysis of this "on demand" service by PPlane indicates that the price-point is expected to be comparable to high speed trains. In summary, PPlane analysis and results show new and novel ideas in the area of air vehicle automation and airspace automated management. High level decision-making on both sides of the Atlantic will help to make it a reality.