Flight data services

Permanent monitoring of the ATFCM situation by the Network Manager Operations Centre (NMOC) – continuously monitoring airspace capacity against traffic load – allows the Network Manager, in close collaboration with the ACCs concerned, to propose the most appropriate ATFCM measures and provides a common overview of the current and expected network situation.

For this purpose, maximum consistency and updating of flight data is essential in order to maintain a real picture of a given flight and the impact it may have on flow management. A centralised flight plan processing and distribution service – the IFPS (Integrated Initial Flight Plan Processing System) – and an Enhanced Tactical Flow Management System – ETFMS – work hand-in-hand to make this possible and are the backbones o the NM Flight Data Services.

Data collection through flight plan data updates

To ensure successful distribution of flight plans to air traffic service units, a flight plan accurately representing the intentions of a flight must be submitted to, and acknowledged by, the IFPS before that flight is allowed to operate under IFR as GAT within the IFPZ. This concerns all flight plans for IFR/GAT flights or parts thereof intending to operate within the IFPZ. One of the aims of the IFPS is to maximise the consistency of flight plan data available operationally.

Once a flight plan has been acknowledged, the IFPS monitors the status of the flight in question until it is completed. It also sends a copy of the flight plan to the ETFMS, where the flight is analysed for any relevant air traffic flow management (ATFM) measures which may be required for that flight.

Data is automatically shared by the two systems if any updates are made to the flight status. Changes in the flight status can be triggered by:

  • information received by the IFPS in the form of flight plans and associated messages,
  • the ETFMS in the form of flight update messages (FSA, CPR and others), or
  • the simple passing of time and the arrival of the day of operation of the flight.

Data collection and distribution of real-time airport and ATC data

Through the collection of real-time airborne flight data (updates), including the collection of surveillance data and the distribution of real-time Network-Manager-enhanced flight data from airports and ATC, the overall flight monitoring process in all phases and the fleet planning of airspace users and overall air traffic flow and capacity management are enhanced.

In order to monitor traffic demand against airspace capacity, the NMOC takes in data from a variety of sources, including:

  • flight plan data originating from AOs, which provide traffic demand information (through the IFPS flight plans),
  • real-time/airborne flight data updates via the ETFMS (FSA, CPR, APR), and
  • airport Departure Planning Information (DPI).

The flight trajectory is updated in real time with the following flight information:

  • IFPS flight plan update messages, such as delay (DLA), change (CHG), etc.
  • Departure Planning Information (DPI) from CDM airports and Advanced ATC Tower airports , during the pre-flight phase
  • First System Activation (FSA) messages from the ANSPs when aircraft take off or when they enter the areas of responsibility of the various ANSPs
  • Airborne updates, such as Airborne Flight Plan (AFP) messages from an ACC or Aircraft Operator Position Report (APR) data from participating companies concerning aircraft departing from aerodromes outside the NM area of operations with destinations inside the area
  • FAA Departure Planning Information (FDI) provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (USA)
  • Correlated Position Reports (CPRs) based on ANSP real-time surveillance data. ETFMS currently receives CPRs from most countries of the NM area of operations.

These flight data are continuously enhanced by more and more airports and ANSPs.

Airborne updates are available mainly in the areas with CPR and FSA coverage. For flights outside the NM area of operations, work is ongoing to collaborate with other areas to capture flight updates. The map below shows the current FSA, FDI, CPR, FAM operational status.

Enhanced Tactical Flow Management System (ETFMS)

The ETFMS system, a key enabler of  ATFCM services, continuously compares traffic demand with available ATC (sector) capacity, through the collection and processing of real-time flight data from ACCs, AOs and airports. This allows:

  • preparation and publication of ATFM plans, including ATFCM scenarios, ATFCM measures (e.g. re-routings and regulations),
  • preparation of  ATFM simulations, and
  • provision of data distribution services.

ETFMS also incorporates a Flight Activation Monitoring (FAM) function. For areas from which ETFMS receives surveillance data (CPR), it knows which flights are airborne and can therefore release unnecessary slots. Visit our ETFMS page for more information on the system.

The Network Manager distributes the ETFMS flight data to its users.

Thanks to the wide coverage of CPR deployment, combined with the solid experience acquired in CPR processing, the accuracy of ETFMS flight profiles has been considerably improved. Using this data, the NM systems calculate enhanced 4D trajectories for flights within the NM area of operations.

The Network Manager shares ETFMS flight data with ANSPs and AOs via EFDs and the NM B2B Web Services, thus providing a common overview of the current and expected local and network situation. It assists AOs and CFSPs with flight-following tools and ANSPs with local ATFCM tools. An EFD is sent for airborne flights when a significant deviation from the planned or calculated flight profile (>1min, or >400ft in en-route phase, or >1000ft in climb/decent phase, or >10NM) is detected. Messages are delivered in real time.

When significant flight updates are made, the ETFMS distributes its flight update messages (FUM) to airports, giving them the estimated landing time (ELDT) at least 3 hours before touchdown, or at ATC activation. Airport stakeholders receive the information they need to best allocate resources if the ELDT of an arrival flight significantly changes. Most departing flights are a continuation and re-identification of an arrival flight which passes through a ‘ground trajectory’ phase. The ELDT can thus be used to improve prediction of the departure time of the outbound flight.

The data distribution service applies to all IFR GAT flights operating through the NM operations area for which NM receives flight data, regardless of its place of departure or destination and irrespective of whether or not it is an overflight.

Evolution

EUROCONTROL’s Network Manager is continually further improving its functional capabilities and the technology driving them.

From the functional point of view, the geographical area for the receipt of flight updates is being extended to include adjacent volumes of airspace.

This extended coverage will be reflected in the EFD, FUMs and NM B2B Web Services.

The growth in the number of airports providing DPI messages will also increase the visibility of flight progress during the turn-round phase.

From the technical point of view, the service is currently accessible through a VPN internet connection and part of this service through NM B2B Web Services interfaces, which will be expanded to other flight data in the future.