Air carrier costs may be reduced by shorter flight routes

A new traffic concept is tested in cooperation with other Central European countries (ANSPs) in Budapest

- Budapest, Hungary

Besides Hungary, both Poland and Slovakia contribute to the testing of potential development paths in the airspace of the Central European region during the simulation carried out at the research, development and simulation centre of HungaroControl. As a result of the international project, the travelling time in North-South direction is expected to shorten, thus resulting in the reduction of fuel consumption and harmful aircraft emissions. The presently tested “free route” concept may substantially reduce airline costs. The test series held in Budapest runs from 21 to 31 May 2013.

During the past two weeks, the air navigation concept called ‘free route’ has been tested in the Budapest based R&D and simulation centre (Centre of Research, Development and Simulation – CRDS) of HungaroControl. The future adoption of the concept may allow aircraft to conquer the distance between the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea or the Adriatic Sea on a shorter route. Airlines thus can save a significant amount of fuel which saving does not only reduce their environmental impact but directs attention to the serious cost saving potential lying in the application of innovative air traffic organisational methods. 

According to the estimates provided by IATA airline companies worldwide are expected to spend USD 216 billion on fuel in 2013, which is five times higher than the figure originating from 2003 and accounts for about 33 per cent of the total expenditure of the airline companies. Therefore the introduction of new and shorter airways may– besides providing significant environmental benefits – add up to approximately USD 1 billion for air carriers. This is particularly true for Europe, where aircraft - due to the air space fragmented along national boundaries - usually fly routes that are longer than optimal. According to the specialists as much as 1 to 1.5% fuel cut can be reached in the old continent by the introduction of the ‘free route’ concept. This may represent a substantial amount of saving in costs, considering that kerosene consumption at a major airline may range up to as much as 9 million tons.

t the test currently underway air navigation experts from three countries, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia examine the applicability of shorter routes by eliminating unnecessary break points. Four other countries, Austria, Croatia, Slovenia and Serbia participate in the international project bridging functional airspace blocks and national borders alike as observers. The programme is organised by the voluntary air navigation cooperation platform covering the Central European area (Central and Eastern European Air Navigation Service Providers’ Platform – CEAP), of which HungaroControl is also a member. The CEAP-airspace serves traffic flowing in East-West direction between the EU and Turkey and the Community and the Middle-East, respectively, as well as the traffic ranging from the Baltic Sea to the Balkan, thus development of air traffic in this region is of paramount importance for the continent as a whole.

The simulation requires a high level competence and cooperation as the engineers have to make an exact copy of both the airspace sectors and the HMI (human-machine interface) of the participating countries. Working in the so created environment allows both the foreign and the Hungarian air traffic control officers to carry out the tests the most efficiently. The simulation programme is in line with the cooperation agreement between HungaroControl and EUROCONTROL, and contributes to the success of the Single European Sky programme.


HungaroControl’s CRDS facility carrying out the simulation evalations.

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