Advanced flexible use of airspace

Improving network performance through safe, efficient and accurate information.

Airspace should be considered as a single continuum, planned and used in a flexible way on a day-to-day basis by all categories of airspace users. At EUROCONTROL, our goal is to reconcile the airspace needs of both civil and military stakeholders. We do so by sharing data, structured planning and integration of airspace management (ASM) results with all airspace users through community-driven air traffic flow and capacity management (ATFCM) processes and procedures. We improve network performance by providing the necessary system support at both local and network levels.

This vision and goal are driven by our advanced flexible use of airspace (AFUA) programme, which combines innovative coordination procedures and automated continuous sharing of information among all partners. Progress relies on extended civil-military coordinated decision making and is intended to respond to the evolving needs of air traffic growth.

Our role

To meet the growing public demand for air transport and expanding need for air traffic services, the Transport Ministers of the European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC) adopted an En-Route Strategy on 24 April 1990.

A major airspace management objective was the implementation of the flexible use of airspace (FUA) concept. We then introduced this FUA concept in March 1996 after development by civil and military representatives of the ECAC States together with representatives of aircraft operators. The FUA concept has been replaced by the Advance Flexible Use of Airspace (AFUA) which is now integrated into Network Manager/CDM (collaborative decision-making) procedures. We are continuously progressing its implementation of AFUA through coordinated implementation steps. Together with our stakeholders we aim at reaching the diverse ATM master Plan objectives in due time.

Acting as the Network Manager (NM), we facilitate the development of the European airspace into a continuum which is flexible and reactive to strategic and short-term changes in airspace user needs. Any necessary airspace segregation is temporary and based on real-time usage within a specific time period. Contiguous volumes of airspace are no longer constrained by national boundaries.

To support the military operations, a MILO service is organised in the NM operational environment to advise and coordinate military activities which could influence the network capacity. This guarantees for the military that the operations are not hampered.

We assist the ECAC Member States to improve their national collaborative civil-military airspace policy and to increase airspace sharing with a view to moving towards integrated pan-European airspace planning. We also support functional airspace blocks (FABs) in the setting up of new ASM processes at FAB level.


The AFUA project aims to improve network performance and to provide safe, efficient and accurate information/data flows.

With the AFUA, NM:

  • is introducing performance-driven operations based on the management of airspace configurations both at network and local/FAB level;
  • is supporting the use of more dynamic and flexible elements made available through the AFUA;
  • is defining a seamless, CDM-based, ASM/ATFCM/ATS process with advanced, real-time management of airspace configurations;
  • is promoting continuous sharing of information between all ATM partners.

The implementation of AFUA has already benefited aviation with:

  • increased flight economy offered through a reduction in distance, time and fuel;
  • the establishment of an enhanced (air traffic services) route network and associated sectorisation;
  • an increase in ATC capacity;
  • a reduction in delays to general air traffic;
  • more efficient ways to separate operational and general air traffic;
  • enhanced real-time civil/military coordination at local level and network level;
  • a reduction in airspace segregation needs;
  • the definition and use of temporary airspace reservation which are more closely in line with military operational requirements


We develop, adopt and update common standards, specifications and guidance material for air traffic management systems and services.

Acknowledge EU funding square

This project has been co-financed by the Connecting Europe Facility of the European Union.