EATC Interoperability Studies
Conceptual work as part of work
Within the Functional Division, the three branches Employment, Training&Exercise, and Techlog have in principle different tasks. But all three branches have one thing in common: they all are responsible for conducting studies on topics either requested by our PNs, arising out of daily operations or out of the EATC’s internal initiative.
Before talking about studies and the way they are conducted, it is important to say a few words on the rationale behind the process. The EATC has to operate in the area of conflict between the needs of the national movement transport coordination centres, the capabilities of the executing agencies and the national and international regulations which have to be obeyed by the A/C operators. Under these circumstances it is obvious that the transportation of passengers and cargo from seven different nations can be challenging. So the aim is to improve the efficiency of the usage of military air transport (see *1) capacities by increasing interoperability amongst our PNs.
Regarding the process itself, before a study can be started some points have to be clarified in advance. This is what we call the “Preliminary Process”. The first thing to point out is: What is the expected benefit and for whom? In this first step it is important to evaluate the added value from the expected end product. An idea at HQ-level may sound attractive but might be impossible to implement at working level and vice versa. The second step goes along with the first one: Is it feasible to conduct the study? Do we have the manpower and knowledge for it, can we afford the cost of conducting the study, but more important, of implementing the result? Additionally, which risks do we have to take in doing so (see *2)? This all flows into the final aspect: What will be the buy in or commitment of our PNs in supporting us in conducting the study.
The interest in the topic and the originator of the initiative help us set the priority for studying the topic and the consequent allocation of manpower and setting of timelines. The model can be compared with the pyramid of Maslow, where the basic needs constitute the fundament (in our case everything essential for daily operations) and the top represent self-fulfillment (in our case the future concepts).
The next step in our Study Process is to evaluate the complexity of the subject. Some topics can get quite complicated when the Air Forces of our PNs are not the only stakeholder but the other services of the armed forces have to be involved as well. Last but not least, we try to find out as early as possible who will be the change agents, the persons or organizations who have to approve our results and to work with them. The earlier those groups are involved in the work, the higher the chances that they will accept what we provide.
Having finished this preliminary process, the “Definition of the Study” is drafted. This is a sum-up of the first part and leads directly to the start of the study: the executing phase. Here it is the responsibility of the study leader to assemble all relevant information, distill them and present the commonly agreed solution of the study team.
If the result is accepted by the involved management, implementation will follow. The responsibility here lies with the change agents but the EATC can support the PNs within the limits of its own resources.
To round it down, the last step is to check outcome and effects of what was delivered with the study and implemented as a constant process of enhancing our efforts for effective and efficient air transport solutions.
Apart from the theoretical explanation of that part of our work, the following three examples try to give you some insight of the work within the Functional Division on these interoperability studies:
Study no. 10: EGOM (EATC Ground Operations Manual) TecLog Branch
The EGOM is one of the biggest challenges within the TecLog Branch. The aim, resulting from a French request, was to harmonize all PNs’ national rules and regulations dealing with handling the A/C, preparing, loading and unloading cargo as well as checking, boarding and disembarking passengers. For the EGOM to be complete all relevant forms for reporting have to go along with the product.
Most of the procedures can be covered by civilian regulations. That is why as a basis we used the respective IATA document, the IGOM. After that the interesting part started, in which military regulations and national specifics had to be integrated. To name only one: almost each nation has different standard weights for passengers. After 18 months of preparation we were finally able to publish a test version of the document, on which basis a three-month test phase was conducted. Selected handling units from all PNs worked according to the new regulation and gave their feedback on usability and correctness. After incorporating that feedback, we are again one step closer to the aim: the handling of A/C should be harmonized throughout all our PNs’ handling units and subsequently, again from the mission point of view, the size of a ground crew should not be determined by the number of different A/C types and the quantity of nations involved but only by the amount of cargo and passengers to be handled.
Study no. 26: A400M Air Crew Training Concept Training & Exercise Branch
Coming from a Franco-German tasker, the aim is to harmonize A400M air crew training concepts and to develop course contents and syllabi. Harmonized training is the fundamental cornerstone in building as much interoperability as possible.
Study no. 28: Cross parachuting Employment Branch
The aim is to establish and certify procedures which enable the Ops Division to task any PN’s executing agency to drop paratroopers or conduct aerial deliveries from or for any other PN’s military user. This also includes the certification of the equipment.
All EATC members want to hold an efficient airdrop capacity in the three main pillars that are the operations, the training and the sharing of a fleet. This study group manages a booklet taking up the different aspects of interoperability between the nations (certification of the parachutes, cargo crew composition during a static line drop, a matrix with the parachutes data, ...). These data are very important to prepare all types of missions and the EATC has a very good experience in conducting exercises (EAATTC, EATT, ...).
The accession of Spain and Italy is a new challenge and their strong motivation to integrate the EATC structure opens up new possibilities. The second step of the study is the airdrop of material. It is already possible to exchange some containers and platforms between nations using the US procedures; we just need a document certifying that the load was inspected. It will be easier to standardize the procedures with the arrival of the Airbus A400M in several nations.
The EATC sets up an interoperability week and two meetings each year. The goal is to gather the experts of each nation around a table and to certify or find a compromise about the parachutes and the procedures. Other nations and international organizations are very active in developing interoperability within NATO and the EATC will be one of the keystones of the project. Currently, UK is joining our effort.
*1 Although in the text only air transport is mentioned, our efforts include as well air to air refuelling and aero medical evacuation.
*2 Meaning financial implications, times with overlapping validity of rules, accidently left out parts which should have been regulated, etc