FABEC Project West: real-time simulation looks at new routes in one of the busiest areas in Europe

In an effort to cope with the anticipated future traffic upturn and improve air traffic management performance in one of the busiest areas in Europe, the civil air navigation service providers Belgocontrol, the French DSNA, EUROCONTROLs Maastricht UAC and NATS (UK), together with their military colleagues from the Belgian and French Air Forces, validated an improved airspace structure during a two-week large-scale real-time simulation held at EUROCONTROLs premises in Brétigny, France.
The airspace between the FABEC (Functional Airspace Block Europe Central) area and the south east of the UK (Dover area) is one of the most congested air traffic areas in Europe. Today this area has to accommodate major European air traffic flows crossing from the UK to the east and from France to the north. In addition, military training activity in a cross-border area located at the boundary between France and Belgium (the so-called CBA1) further reduces the already scarce capacity available for civil traffic in the area. All these factors generate delays and inefficiencies.
 
The first results of the simulation indicate that the airspace structure can be improved to accommodate additional traffic while taking into account military requirements by increasing the number of eastbound routes, reshaping sectors managed by Belgocontrol, MUAC and NATS and by redesigning the military training area CBA1.
 
Implementation of the improved airspace design is scheduled for 2013.
 
FABEC is currently managing several airspace design projects intended to improve overall performance in the core area of Europe. The FABEC West Project is one of these airspace design projects.
 
FABEC brings together the six states of Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland, both at transport and defense ministerial levels, their civil and military air navigation service providers and EUROCONTROL's four-state air traffic control centre in Maastricht. The civil FABEC ANSPs employ a total of 17,700 people. 5,400 are air traffic controllers. 55% of all European traffic movements are in the FABEC area.
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