Route network and airspace design

Accommodating air traffic demand to increase capacity and flight efficiency.

At EUROCONTROL, our mission as the Network Manager (NM) is to ensure an efficient, flexible and dynamic airspace structure. This structure is based on the continuous expansion of free route airspace operations and multi-option routeings and it is supported by adaptable air traffic control (ATC) sectorisation.

To maximise the capacity of the airspace, we coordinate the design and use of the European route network on behalf of our Member States and with operational stakeholders (civil and military airspace users, civil and military air navigation service providers (ANSPs), airport operators, etc.).

This coordination is guaranteed via the Route Network Development Sub-Group (RNDSG). The collaborative decision-making (CDM) process begins with broad operational requirements which are gradually refined into specific airspace design proposals for implementation to improve the design and structure of European airspace.

Reference documents

Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/123 on network functions formalises the European route network design function. From an operational perspective, one of the main lines of action is the preparation of the European Route Network Improvement Plan (ERNIP).

ERNIP is a rolling plan established and implemented by the NM - via the European Route Network Design (ERND) function - in coordination with Member States and the operational stakeholders. ERNIP is part of the Network Operations Plan (NOP) and it is made up of the following parts:

The principles and technical specifications for airspace design are published in the ERNIP Part 1 - European Airspace Design Methodology – Technical Specifications for airspace design, covering the design of all European airspace structures. ERNIP Part 2 includes all the airspace design projects planned for implementation over the next five years and in coordination between the NM and the operational stakeholders. ERNIP Part 3 includes procedures for civil/military cooperation while ERNIP part 4 describes the procedures for airspace use and availability – Route Availability Document.

The Route Availability Document (RAD)

The Route Availability Document (RAD) is a compendium and centralised source of information about the rules for use and availability of the route network and free route airspace, which we publish and regularly update. This update relies on the information which we receive from the air navigation service providers (ANSPs),

The RAD is published every 56 days, and 34 days before the start of the relevant aeronautical information regulation and control (AIRAC) cycle. The RAD updates include both structural and air traffic flow and capacity management (ATFCM) requirements, detailed geographically and vertically. They are produced following an appropriate CDM process between operational stakeholders and the NM.

Access our RAD portlet to find all the latest RAD updates and procedures.

Tools

Our online tools allow users to ensure that their projects are aligned with the ERNIP and simulate network capacity planning and airspace design. Click on the buttons below to learn more.

ERNIP tool

European route network improvement plan tool

NEST

Network strategic modelling tool