Disruption and crisis management

The air traffic management network is vulnerable to all kinds of disruption. There are a number of events which can raise Network Manager (NM) alert levels, such as:

  • Bad weather;
  • Industrial action;
  • Volcanic eruption;
  • Armed conflict;
  • Security incidents;
  • Nuclear accident;
  • Staff shortages;
  • Uncontrolled re-entry of satellites.

The Network Manager’s role

The Network Manager, by virtue of its central view of all operations, strives to ensure that the network runs smoothly under any circumstances.

The Network Manager Operations Centre (NMOC) in Brussels plays a key role in:

  • monitoring the impact of these events on aviation;
  • closely coordinating the response to the problem and the measures taken.

A comprehensive set of operational measures is available for immediate deployment.

Preparation and coordination between all relevant partners are essential in minimising disruption.  Regardless of the cause of the disruption, NM works closely with all its partners to minimise any knock-on effects on Europe’s air traffic management network as a whole.

Major airspace users also put in place a series of measures that complement the network crisis procedures.

In the event of network crisis, the Network Manager, with the support of the European Aviation Crisis Coordination Cell (EACCC) is responsible for coordinating the management of response to the network crisis, involving close cooperation with corresponding structures in Member States.

NM’s role in network disruption management

Depending on the phase and type of network disruption, NM and its partners play various roles and implement diverse measures.

Disruption phase

Role

Pre-alert phase

Network Operations are either:

  • disrupted by minor network problems, or;
expected to be disrupted by network problems such as difficult winter conditions, industrial action or unavailability of a major ANSP, etc.).

 

NM receives a warning indicating that an event with the potential to affect the European aviation network has occurred or may occur.

NM gathers all necessary information and monitors the situation.

Depending on the sensitivity of the event, NM assesses its progress and decides what relevant information may be published on the Network Operations Portal (NOP) to provide the aviation community with the latest updates on the disruptive event. Moreover, NM may organise a teleconference to facilitate the exchange of information.

Following the pre-alert phase, NM may return to normal operations or, if the disruption becomes major, progress to the disruption management phase.

Disruption management phase

In the event of major disruption impacting the European aviation network such as military intervention, industrial action or unavailability of a major ANSP or several ANSPs, etc.

 

NM is informed that:

  • an event has occurred and has caused major disruption to the European aviation network or;
  • that minor disruption is likely to escalate into major disruption.

NM gathers all necessary information and monitors the situation. It assesses how the event is progressing and decides what relevant information will be published on the NOP to provide the aviation community with the latest updates on the disruptive event. Moreover, it organises teleconferences to facilitate the exchange of information.

Following the disruption management phase, NM may return to the pre-alert phase or normal operations.  Should the major disruption worsen, it may progress to the crisis management phase.

Crisis management phase

In the event of a crisis resulting in a major loss of network capacity or major imbalance between network capacity and demand or major disruption to the flow of information in one or several parts of the network, as a result of an unusual and unforeseen situation such as volcanic ash dispersion, a pandemic, a massive cyber-attack, etc.
 

NM is informed that:

  • an event has occurred which impacts on large parts or all of the  European aviation network or;
  • major disruption has escalated into a crisis, or;
  • major disruption might escalate into a crisis.

NM gathers the required information and monitors the situation. In addition, it activates the EACCC.

Operational level

NM assesses the progress of the event and decides what relevant information will be published on the NOP to provide the aviation community with the latest updates on the crisis. Moreover, NM organises teleconferences to facilitate the exchange of information.

Political level

The EACCC gathers information on the progress of the event and organises teleconferences involving its members, the relevant State focal points and, depending on the nature of the crisis, the relevant expert organisations.  It prepares communications, based on the factual assessment of the situation, and transmits them to the European Commission, EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) and EUROCONTROL, as Network Manager, the civil and military authorities of the affected States and the corresponding national supervisory authorities (NSAs), ANSPs (Air Navigation Service Providers), airlines and airports.

Following the crisis management phase, NM may return to the disruption management phase, pre-alert phase or even to normal operations.

 

Crisis management Team

Phone: 
+32 2 729 9792