Flight-centric air traffic control
- SJU reference # PJ.10-01b /Release 2019
- Status In the pipeline
European airspace is divided into flight information regions, which are subdivided into sectors to provide safe separation services for aircraft travelling through the airspace. Changing this to a flight-centred structure without reference to geographical sectors opens up the opportunity to distribute the traffic more evenly, and to avoid lost productivity in under-loaded sectors. Aircraft may be under the responsibility of the same controller across two or more geographical sectors rather than handed over at sector boundaries. The new concept affects communications between controllers and pilots, as well as coordination procedures between controllers. In the terminal manoeuvring area, this alternative non-geographical allocation of airspace is based on assigning arrivals to one team of controllers and departures to another team of controllers.
The flight-centred solution requires new tools relating to traffic allocation and coordination. In the event of a conflict for example, it is important to establish which controller is responsible for its resolution. For high traffic densities, advanced conflict detection and resolution tools are required which may have multiple functions in addition to flight-centric operations. These tools can provide long look-ahead time and help to allocate conflicts to controllers.
Communications tools are also under review as the flight-centred solution will usually require the aircraft to remain in communication with the same controller for longer than is usual during current operations. This might extend beyond the coverage of a single VHF frequency and involve multiple VHF antenna or digital voice communications over Internet Protocol (VoIP).
- Reduced fuel consumption and emissions
- Enhanced predictability
- Improved operational and cost efficiency
- Maintained levels of safety