SESAR shows how user driven prioritisation process can reduce airspace user delay costs

Mar. 29, 2016

Airspace users participated in a User Driven Prioritisation Process (UDPP) exercise, which took place in March 2016.  

UDPP aims to provide more flexibility to airspace users in case of delays on departure, en-route and arrival in capacity constrained situations (for example due to adverse weather or industrial action). It takes place in a Collaborative Decision Making context. The UDPP Step 1 process (including slot swapping) covers flight exchanges within a sequence list at a point of congestion (departure, en-route, arrival), and is now being progressively deployed. The UDPP Step 2 concept provides an additional layer of flexibility by allowing an anticipative management of airspace user flight schedules in delay situations.

The project aims to clarify the roles and responsibilities of the different actors collaborating in UDPP (airspace users, Network Manager, FMPs, airports); ensuring a smooth integration with other Demand and Capacity Balancing measures; and further validating performance.

Taking place at EUROCONTROL’s premises, the exercise validated two aspects of UDPP Step 2: fleet delay apportionment (FDA) lets airspace users decide how the delay to be absorbed in a capacity constrained situation should be absorbed among their affected flights; Selective Flight Protection (SFP) lets airspace users put important flights into their scheduled times by suspending (cancelling) other less important flights.

A simulated flight operations environment was created using a Sabre UDPP prototype and an adaptation of the EUROCONTROL Airport/APOC Gaming platform developed by Airbus Defence & Space.  Flight operations personnel manned desks emulating major hub, regional and low cost airline operations.  A number of delay scenarios covering departure and arrival situations at a major airport were used. The tools enabled participants to assign priorities; perform a what-if analysis of delay times and delay costs; and to suspend less-important flights in order to promote more important ones.

The exercise demonstrated how participating airspace users can significantly reduce delay costs, by prioritising flights in anticipation of capacity constrained situations. Moreover, this was achieved with no impact on the overall delay times experienced by non-participating airspace users. The flight operations personnel were quickly up-to-speed with the UDPP rules and procedures and the features available on the tools.

The exercise was carried out in the framework of the SESAR project on the User Driven Prioritisation Process, led by EUROCONTROL with participation from Sabre, Airbus Defence & Space and a wide range of airspace users.

Hub-carrier desk at Eurocontrol’s experimental centre in Brétigny, France