Jacques Villiers

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Jacques Villiers
Born (1924-08-26)26 August 1924
Vaucresson, Paris, France
Died 13 March 2012(2012-03-13) (aged 87)
Paris, France
Citizenship French
Alma mater École polytechnique
École nationale de l'aviation civile
Scientific career
Fields Engineering (Aerospace)

Jacques Villiers (26 August 1924 – 13 March 2012[1]) was a French aerospace engineer and public servant. He was the founder of the Centre d'études de la navigation aérienne (French air navigation center) and co-founder[2] of the CAUTRA system (Système de contrôle automatisé du trafic aérien – automated air traffic control system), the computer system of the French air traffic management.[3]


Villiers was born in Vaucresson to a family from Lorraine. At a young age he joined the French resistance and the Maquis du Vercors.

After the Liberation of France, he graduated from the École polytechnique (1945–1948), after which he joined the Corps of Air navigation as an engineer. (It later became the Corps de l'aviation civile and then merged into the Corps des ponts). After graduating from the École nationale de l'aviation civile (1948–1950), he joined the Service de la navigation aérienne (SNAé) (Air navigation Service), where he campaigned in 1957 for France to modernize its air navigation system with new computing equipment. In 1960, following a reorganization of the SNAé, the Director of Air Navigation allowed him to create the Centre d'études de la navigation aérienne (CENA). He laid down the principles for automating the French Air Navigation System.[4][5][6]

Villiers remained involved with the development of the system, designed to require as little instruction and effort from the operator as possible. Villiers invented the Digitatron, a touch input device which allows operators to modify the flight plans of aircraft.

It was also at this time that he developed the theory of filters, which separates the control actions on traffic flows in several filters whose time horizon is different.[7] This theory foreshadowed modern versions of the air traffic control system.

Villiers was director of CENA from 1959 to 1970, where he had a paramount influence [8] in the launching [9] of the French air traffic control system, the CAUTRA (Automatic Air Traffic Coordinator) (versions I and II).

In 1970 Villiers became director of Northern region aeronautics, leaving the direction of CENA to his deputy, Dominique Alvarez. Villiers remained involved with CENA and furthered his interest in the automation control system, preparing several reports[10] and numerous articles in journals or international conferences.[11][12][13][14][15]

He was responsible for the general inspection of civil aviation and was on the Board of Directors of Aéroports de Paris. He was Chairman of the Board of ENAC from 1979 to 1989,[16] a period during which he prepared the school's ENAC2000 plan. This plan provided the basis of a renovated and modern university. Villiers was also a member of the Académie de l'air et de l'espace.

In the early 2000s Villiers developed an original concept, the subliminal control, and transformed it into a new set of tools for air traffic control, the ERASMUS system.[17][18][19] The Toolkit resulted in an ongoing R&D project, supported by the European Commission bearing the same name.[20][21] The results of this project will form the basis[22] of one of the most important tasks[which?] of the Single European Sky SESAR project. Villiers filed a patent for this system.[23] He spent the last years of his life developing and promoting it with many articles[24] and conferences.[25]


  • In partnership with Paul Funel, Le transport aérien français : rapport au ministre d'État, ministre des Transports, La documentation française, Paris 1982 (ISBN 978-2110010148)
  • Académie nationale de l'air et de l'espace and Lucien Robineau, Les français du ciel, dictionnaire historique, Le Cherche-Midi, June 2005, 782 p. (ISBN 2-7491-0415-7), p. 523, Villiers, Jacques
  • Sophie Poirot-Delpech, Mémoire et histoires de l'automatisation du contrôle aérien : Sociobiographie du CAUTRA, L'Harmattan Editions, 11 September 2009


  1. ^ Newsletter ENAC - n°101 / Mars 2012 (in French), 16 March 2012, archived from the original on 7 August 2012 
  2. ^ (in French) Aviation Civile magazine, May 2007, 60 ans de contrôle aérien "en-route", page 19 [1]
  3. ^ (in French)Une interview de Jacques Villiers, cofondateur du CAUTRA Archived 2016-04-13 at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ (in French)Perspectives sur l'automatisation du contrôle de la circulation aérienne, Revue "Navigation", 1961 [2]
  5. ^ (in French)L'approche française de l'automatisation du contrôle de la circulation aérienne, 1966 [3]
  6. ^ (in French)L'automatisation de l'exploitation: l'exemple du contrôle de la circulation aérienne, bulletin du PCM, 1967 [4]
  7. ^ (in French)Perspectives pour le contrôle de la circulation aérienne dans les phases avancées d'automatisation: la méthode des filtres, Revue "Navigation", 1968 [5]
  8. ^ (in French) Discours prononcé par Yves Lambert, ancien directeur de la navigation aérienne, Mars 2012 [6]
  9. ^ (in French)Sophie Poirot Delpech, une biographie du Cautra Pour la France, l'idée initiale vient d'un jeune ingénieur sorti de l'X puis de la première promotion des Ingénieurs de la Navigation Aérienne de la toute jeune ENAC (Jacques Villiers). Un dessein l'occupe et le passionne depuis 1957: les perspectives d'automatisation de la navigation aérienne
  10. ^ (in French)Rapport des sages, 1985 [7]
  11. ^ (in French)Automatisation du contrôle de la navigation aérienne: de la décision à l'aide à la décision, Revue Navigation, 1974 [8]
  12. ^ (in French)L'intelligence artificielle dans le contrôle de la circulation aérienne, ITA magazine, 1987 [9][permanent dead link]
  13. ^ (in French)Le mur de la capacité, ITA magazine, 1990 [10]
  14. ^ (in French)Aéroports du futur, des carrefours saturés, Science et Vie Hors série n° 207, Aviation 99, juin 1999 [11]
  15. ^ (in French)La mémoire des opérateurs dans la conduite des systèmes complexes: le cas de l'ATC, Forum homme-machine, ANAE 2000 memoire_operateur_2000.pdf[permanent dead link]
  16. ^ (in French)Newsletter ENAC, Mars 2012 "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-08-07. Retrieved 2012-08-12. 
  17. ^ The ERASMUS project: a friendly way for breaking the capacity barrier, Revue "The controller" [12]
  18. ^ (in French)ERASMUS, une voie conviviale pour franchir le mur de la capacité, Revue ITA, vol 58, juin 2004 [13]
  19. ^ Automated air traffic control for an innovative and efficient "single sky". A joint road to a joint goal, ECAC 27 [14]
  20. ^ (in French)Site web du projet ERASMUS [15]
  21. ^ (in French)Revue technique de la Direction des Services de la Navigation Aérienne [16]
  22. ^ ERASMUS, strategic deconfliction to benefit SESAR, Rosa Weber (Honeywell), Air Traffic Management international conference [17]
  23. ^ (in French)Dispositif et procédé d'assistance automatisée aux contrôleurs de la circulation aérienne [18]
  24. ^ Conflict and wind forecast: how to best benefit from wind forecasting, The Journal of Air Traffic Control, Vol 53, No 4, Automne 2011 [19]
  25. ^ (in French)Les voies du ciel s'ouvrent à l'ordinateur, Science et Vie N°1090, Juillet 2008 pages 90-93