Repetitive Flight Plans (RPLs) have served airlines’ needs well in the past. However, the “file-and-forget” principle of an RPL is simply no longer consistent with the dynamic nature of today’s network, which is why the EUROCONTROL Network Manager (NM) has decided as of 29 March 2020 to phase out its RPL service in the FIRs of the EUROCONTROL NM area of operations, giving airspace users sufficient time to put in place alternative, more dynamic solutions.
RPL routes that are chosen months in advance have a good chance of not being available or, more importantly, not being the most efficient on the day of operation, as the application of the FUA (Flexible Use of Airspace) concept ensures that any airspace segregation is temporary and based on real use for a specified time period. For this reason, the phasing-out of the NM RPL service and its replacement with more dynamic solutions are in line with the mission of ICAO’s Global Air Navigation Plan for CNS/ATM Systems (Doc. 9750), which aims to cope with the worldwide growth in air traffic demand over the coming years.
The long lead-time to 29 March 2020, when the EUROCONTROL NM will stop providing the service, is designed to give airspace users sufficient time to find an alternative solution and plan for the transition, e.g. from a Computer Flight Planning Services Provider; while on our side, it will allow NM sufficient time to update the documents that refer to the NM RPL service.
With the termination of the NM RPL service, individual flight plans will have to be filed for each flight. This will ensure that essential pieces of information such as aircraft registration, 24-bit aircraft address, capability/status of on-board communication, navigation and surveillance equipment, etc. are all provided to the NM Integrated Initial Flight Plan Processing System (IFPS) for distribution to air traffic service units.