Flight efficiency initiative

Getting the most efficient routes on the day of operation.

Our flight efficiency initiative (FEI) offers aircraft operators (AOs) the most efficient routes on the day of operation by scrutinising their flight plans to find a quicker or more cost-effective way for their aircraft to fly.

The FEI operates on the basis of a dynamic route generator and an automatically maintained catalogue of routes flown in the past. The routes are evaluated on the basis of subjective cost criteria provided by the airline operators, such as flying time costs, fuel costs and the cost of air traffic flow, and capacity management (ATFCM) delays.

The FEI includes flight efficiency procedures and functionalities implemented as part of the EUROCONTROL Network Manager’s (NMs) operational systems supporting the automatic processing of re-routeing proposals for airspace users.

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The FEI concept allows:

the most dynamic use of the network;

  • improved flight planning;
  • substantial savings in fuel, miles and time;
  • strategic and continuous improvement of the AOs’ route catalogue;
  • enhanced filing of flight plans.

Considerable benefits could be obtained if airlines and flight planners were constantly adapting their flight planning systems. That is why we have issued technical guidelines which should favour the timely and smooth adaptation of those systems.

Our role

At EUROCONTROL, as the NM, we have an overview and a dynamic knowledge of the route network capacity and other key information, such as the AOs’ up-to-date flight planning policies and operating procedures. This allows us to make proposals to ensure the most dynamic and efficient possible use of the network.

In order to achieve the flight efficiency target, we have developed the En-Route Network Improvement Plan (Part 2). The document reflects airspace design improvements planned to bring routes closer to the optimum “great circle” route and to reduce extended flight paths.

The re-routeing process

The FEI re-routeing process can take place up to two hours before the flight. It is organised in two steps as described below.

Comparing flight plans

An interactive tool (known as the Demand data repository web portal or DDR interface) allows all AOs and computerised flight plan service providers (CFSPs) to compare their flight plans with the best filed flight plan accepted by the integrated initial flight plan processing system (IFPS) in the last aeronautical information regulation and control (AIRAC) cycle for a given city pair.

The DDR tool displays flights between a busy city pair (without naming specific flights) and shows the plans which used the shortest routes and those which required additional miles to be flown. It can assess individual flight plans or detect network performance developments, taking into account the fact that the European airspace network benefits from a significant level of dynamism through the application of the flexible use of airspace (FUA) concept, under which the military release airspace to civil aviation.

Conditional routes (CDRs), established in military areas, are also regularly made available on the day before operations (D-1) and on the day of operations.

Demand data repository web portal

Re-routeing proposals to AOs

The NM re-computes flight plans after they have been filed via the IFPS, taking into consideration certain cost criteria provided by AOs. The latest ATFCM situation and weather (wind) data are also included in the assessment.

To do so, they use the Route Opportunity Tool (or Group Re-routeing Tool/GRRT). The GRRT is run multiple times a day in order to extract all the flight plans which could potentially benefit from a better route. When identified, routes improvements are presented to AOs with CHMI rerouteing opportunities indicator (OPP) or sent as rerouteing proposal message (RRP).

For more details, please contact our support team via the contact form at the bottom of this page.

Background information

The flight efficiency initiative dates back to April 2008, when the first key performance indicators referring to flight efficiency were adopted, on the recommendation of the Dynamic Management of the European Airspace Network (DMEAN) Steering Group.

In August 2008, IATA, CANSO and EUROCONTROL signed the Flight Efficiency Plan (FEP) in reaction to the fuel price crisis that summer. The FEP brought enhanced visibility to specific urgent developments to support flight efficiency and emission reduction.

The FEP called for a partnership approach between airlines, air navigation service providers, airports, States civil and military authorities and EUROCONTROL to implement operational measures which could lead to fuel savings in the short term.