Disruption and crisis management

Ensuring the network runs smoothly in any conditions.

About

At EUROCONTROL, in our capacity of Network Manager (NM), we strive to ensure that the European air traffic management network runs smoothly under all circumstances.

However, the network is vulnerable to a variety of events which can negatively affect its normal operations.

In such cases, a rapid, informed and coordinated response is essential to minimise any negative impact and maintain safe and efficient operations at local and network levels.

Events

Such events are called disruptions and can vary in size, cause and impact. Minor events happen regularly and are dealt with throughout standard operational procedures. Major disruptions such as natural disasters (volcanic eruptions, severe weather patterns and even space weather) or man-made disasters (systems failure, physical or cyber-attacks) can pose a danger to normal network operations and are addressed with great caution and through special procedures.

Due to the often unpredictable nature of disruptions, they can escalate to a crisis - a state of inability to provide sufficient air navigation services in several States. Such events have a medium to long term impact, resulting in a severe and unexpected loss of network capacity, an imbalance in network capacity and demand, or a failure in the flow of information in one or many parts of the network.

Response

Our Operations Centre (NMOC) constantly monitors the network, ready to deploy a comprehensive set of operational measures. In response to a potential disruption or crisis, NM follows the Network Manager Incident Coordination Procedure, consisting of three phases:

When a disruption has a serious and negative effect on the European aviation network (e.g. armed conflict, terrorist attack or the unavailability of one or several major ANSPs). We cooperate with affected parties and other stakeholders and apply the most appropriate measures to mitigate the impact of the event. Continuous monitoring and updates are also provided regularly to stakeholders via the NOP Portal or teleconferences.

In the case of an unusual and unforeseen situation, we declare a crisis (e.g. volcanic ash dispersion, a pandemic, a massive cyber or terrorist attack). In response, we activate the EACCC to coordinate and assist with the rapid collection, analysis and dissemination of all relevant information to ensure a swift and effective response to the crisis.

We propose and coordinate the implementation of measures to mitigate the impact of the crisis and communicate relevant and consistent information to the aviation community in close cooperation with other aviation stakeholders. Lastly, we coordinate external communication to ensure a consistent message.

The European Aviation Crisis Coordination Cell (EACCC) brings together all relevant political and operational stakeholders to ensure that the situation is assessed based on all available information and that a coordinated response is formulated. It is composed of representatives of:

  • the European Commission and NM/EUROCONTROL (co-chairs);
  • the EU Member State holding the Presidency of the European Council;
  • the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA);
  • the military;
  • the air navigation service providers;
  • airports;
  • airspace users.

    Depending on the need and specific nature of the crisis, aviation crisis management State Focal Points and other experts may be invited to join the EACCC.

    EACCC establishment

    The European Aviation Crisis Coordination Cell (EACCC) was established on 19 May 2010 by a decision of Directors General of the European Commission/DG MOVE and EUROCONTROL , following the lessons learned from the eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland in April and May 2010. Its establishment has been formalised in the Commission Regulation (EU) No 677/2011 of 7 July 2011 on the ATM network functions.

    Preparedness

    Crises are unpredictable, but should not be left to chance. In preparation for the worst, NM and the EACCC simulate certain crisis scenarios. These exercises are done regularly and consider different causes from natural disasters to man-made catastrophes.

    Tools

    EVITA

    European crisis visualisation interactive tool for ATFCM

    NOP

    Network operations portal

    Video

    Boarding pass focussing on crisis management

    Euronews visited Naples Airport in Italy where the duty manager launched an emergency drill triggering the immediate involvement of the fire brigade.

    Documents

    ATFCM Users Manual