Flight efficiency initiative

Get the most efficient routes on the day of operation.

Our Flight Efficiency Initiative (FEI) offers aircraft operators 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 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 airline operators’ route catalogue;
  • enhanced filing of flight plans.

Benefits could be considerably improved if airlines and flight planners were constantly adapting their flight planning systems. That is why, by early 2018, we will be issuing technical guidelines which should favour the timely and smooth adaptation of those systems.

Our role

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

In order to tackle 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 different phases.

Comparison of flight plans

An interactive tool (known as the DDR interface) allows all aircraft operators (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. This 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.

Re-routeing proposals to AOs

The IFPS staff carry out a network impact assessment to help find the best opportunities, by screening the complete IFPS valid flight plan database. They assess these opportunities and, if they are found acceptable from an operational point of view, they submit them to the airline concerned via a re-routeing proposal message (RRP), identifiable via the comment line: ”purpose if flight efficiency”.

They use the so called Route Opportunity Tool (Group Rerouteing Tool/GRRT) to re-compute flight plans after they have been filed via the IFPS, taking into consideration certain cost criteria provided by aircraft operators. The latest ATFCM situation and weather (wind) data are also included in the assessment.

They run the tool six times a day in order to extract all the flight plans which could potentially benefit from a better route. The list of those flight plans identified by the tool are then scrutinised by the IFPS staff to see which aircraft operators can benefit on which route.