European ATM Communication Gateway

Aeronautical Messaging Systems

The European ATM Communication Gateway was a pan-European effort guided by the EUROCONTROL agency. Air navigation service providers (ANSP) and industry suppliers aimed at developing a common standard software for the migration from AFTN and CIDIN based technologies to faster ones like X.400, ATN and AMHS. Main objective was to eliminate interoperability problems thus boosting harmonisation on a national and international level.

Uniting the expertise and experience of European ANSPs and industry, EUROCONTROL initiated the ECG as a forefront system to cater for a wide range of current and future requirements in international message switching. In 1998, as a result of a European-wide selection process, EUROCONTROL authorised French STNA and German DFS, and their respective industrial partners Thales IS and COMSOFT to develop an ECG system.

Therefore, there exist two genuine ECG systems that were tested and accepted by EUROCONTROL. Other systems claiming to be "compliant to the ECG requirements" and "interoperable with ECG" have neither been tested nor authenticated by EUROCONTROL. Successful Site Acceptance Tests of the developed systems were then performed in late 2002. Due to the wide acceptance of ECG, we decided to incorporate ECG into all instances of its AMHS product AIDA-NG.

ECG is based on a comprehensive and consolidated set of specifications developed by EUROCONTROL and the European member states. It is designed to implement all currently applicable interoperability standards, in particular the ICAO standards for ATN and AMHS.

Representing a pre-funded system with a high multiplier effect for the intended global usage, the ECG provides an unmatched cost/performance ratio for European and non-European customers.

Contribution to a Seamless Sky

The primary purpose of the ECG project was to provide a cost-effective implementation path for ANSPs, and other parties, who consider migrating to an Aeronautical Message Handling Systems (AMHS) or to an ATN-compliant environment. A list of consolidated user requirements was generated by European member states. Taking into account the experience obtained from several message system replacement programmes in Europe, it ensured that real user requirements were met.

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Major Benefits

The major benefits of the ECG concept were the provision of common core gateway software that: 

  • Eliminates inter-operability problems by using a common standard software
  • Provides a transition path towards the implementation of ATSMHS
  • Ensures product scalability, modularity and maintainability for ease of implementation
  • Uses commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) products as much as possible in order to minimise the user costs

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Further Highlights

  • Open, fault-tolerant architecture
  • Strict adherence to international and ICAO communication standards (ATN, CIDIN, AFTN)
  • Strict adherence to ICAO message handling standards (AMHS, AFTN)
  • Support of the European-Internet IP-based infrastructure (IPAX)
  • Transparent switching of all kinds of aeronautical data
  • Customisable message handling front end
  • Highly adaptable by online configuration
  • Uniform, fully integrated HMI for all system functions
  • Excellent throughput capacity

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All following Frequentis Comsoft message handling implementations benefit from the experience in this project and the AIDA-NG product is based on the ECG core software package which is modular, platform-independent and flexible. Its flexibility has proven to be able to keep pace with future developments and resulting requirements; best example is the constantly increasing number of successful AMHS implementations managed by Frequentis Comsoft.