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• The MOU provides for establishing an Air Traffic Management (ATM) Innovation Lab in the UAE to co-develop a comprehensive Air Traffic Flow Management (ATFM).
• This initiative will provide state-of-the-art ATFM solutions to keep the UAE skies safe in a sustainable way.
• This will be Thales’s first-of-its-kind ATM Innovation Lab in the Middle East and the fourth in the world, fully focused on exploring the integration of new technologies in legacy ATM systems.

Dubai, 15 November 2023 -The General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), Tawazun Council, and Thales have signed a Memorandum of Understanding for joint collaboration to develop comprehensive and state-of-the-art Air Traffic Management (AFTM) solutions through a new joint innovation lab based in the UAE.

The Innovation Lab will support the UAE aviation sector, including Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSP), airlines, and airports, by optimizing aircraft capacity (reducing congestion and delays), maximizing aircraft traffic predictive analysis, and supporting greener flight operations (aircraft CO2 emission reduction).

The MoU was signed by H.E. Saif Mohammed Al Suwaidi, Director General of the GCCA; Shareef Hashim Al Hashmi, CEO of Operations at Tawazun Council; and Pascale Sourisse, President and CEO of Thales International, on the sidelines of Dubai Airshow 2023.

Under the MOU, GCAA and Thales experts will collaborate and utilize the Innovation Lab to design and engineer Thales’ ATFM solution, from the definition of the concept of operation to the deployment of new functionalities suitable to meet the UAE’s operational requirements.

GCAA has been at the forefront of managing phenomenal growth in air traffic movements, which are forecast to double by 2030 within the UAE airspace, one of the busiest in the world. This growth has been further fueled by the success of the locally based national carriers. The physical infrastructure, the aerospace system, and the human resources are constantly challenged with delivering a safe and efficient service.

The agreement is part of Thales fulfilling its obligations with the Economic Program under the Defense and Security Industry Affairs Unit at the Tawazun Council. The council will play a pivotal role in ensuring the necessary requirements are met to make this project a success and continue its development. This will enhance the sustainability of the aviation system, achieve added value for the national economy, and boost local content in the country.

H.E. Saif Mohammed Al Suwaidi, Director General of GCAA, said, “This collaboration marks a pivotal step in our strategy to strengthen our relationship with our stakeholders and indicates the importance of collaboration between the different UAE entities in supporting the common goals of the UAE. We are passionate about expanding this collaboration further in the future to benefit the UAE and Middle East ATM stakeholders by improving airspace capacity and efficiency and reducing congestion, delays, and CO2 emissions.”

By joining efforts with Tawazun Council and Thales, we reinforce our commitment to innovation in air traffic management. The Innovation Lab reflects our dedication to ensuring the sustainability of the aviation system amid the expected growth of air traffic movements in the UAE airspace, one of the busiest globally. As we navigate this growth, fostering technological advancements is key to delivering safe and efficient aviation services.”

H.E. Muammar Abdulla Abushehab, CEO of Tawazun Council emphasized Tawazun Council’s dedication to incorporating advanced technology and artificial intelligence in projects aligning with partners’ needs. He highlighted the council’s commitment to advancing sustainability in the aviation sector, particularly through the (ATFM) project, the first project to be developed in the region. Abushehab underscored the project’s significance in enhancing the UAE’s global competitiveness and improving efficiency in aviation from strategic planning to tactical operations.

“We are very pleased to sign this MoU with our strategic UAE partners, Tawazun Council and GCAA, for the development of the Innovation Lab. Implementing cutting-edge ATFM solutions will support GCAA in reducing congestion and delays at some of the world’s busiest airports, not just today but for years to come. A long-term and holistic vision is critical when it comes to the infrastructure of our countries. The lab will facilitate cross-fertilization of ideas and expertise to have a state-of-the-art ATM infrastructure in the region.” said Pascale Sourisse.