Ten years ago (3 March 2009 at 18:35 UTC to be precise), the EUROCONTROL Network Operations Portal (NOP) went live. Designed to meet users’ needs for accessible, ‘one-stop-shop’ air traffic management (ATM) information, the NOP provides the entire aviation community with a common view of the European ATM network situation.
Starting with an initial concept definition in 2005, a EUROCONTROL Core Team comprising Sabine Cayre (user relations, overall project coordination and communication), Idalina Mendes Videira (software development) and Cruz Garcia de Dios (validation and deployment) worked closely with a task force of highly committed stakeholder experts from DFS, DSNA, IACA, IATA, LVNL, NATS, SAS and Skyguide to deliver successfully the NOP, which has become an essential and highly powerful tool used daily by thousands of users, from aviation professionals to journalists to the travelling public.
Built with and for stakeholders, the NOP is used by two main aviation stakeholder groups – civil and military aviation professionals, and in particular airspace users, who use a protected version of the portal in support of their operations and as a collaboration tool with the other actors.
The public version of the NOP can be accessed by anyone with an internet connection. It allows the general public to look at the current network situation and check for delays and other disruption-related information. On the public NOP, users can find the real-time status of traffic, airspace and airport congestion issues, industrial action announcements, weather forecasts and more.
Used daily by thousands of users, the NOP also experiences huge peaks of use at times of severe network disruption. During the Eyjafjallajökull eruption in Iceland in 2010, the NOP received a staggering 10 million hits a day, when it was the sole source of authoritative network information – alongside EUROCONTROL’s pioneering use of Twitter as a means for getting network updates out to the European public. And in summer periods, traffic to access the NOP typically doubles – particularly in summer 2018, when the network faced many operational challenges, resulting in postponed or cancelled flights, and seriously delayed passengers stranded in airports, often without much information.
The NOP also displays the collaborative planning of pan-European operations from the strategic to tactical phases, thereby helping to optimise the use of ATM capacity. It lets airspace users see all available routes in each of the planning phases, and displays parameters such as route length and duration, taking constraints into consideration.
By raising general awareness of the air traffic situation, the NOP contributes to ATM safety. And by proposing alternative routes to airspace users and helping them avoid longer routes, the NOP helps to curtail aviation’s environmental impact.
The NOP together with the EUROCONTROL NM’s B2B Services are the most visible parts of the first phase of a digital transformation initiated in 2004, with the introduction of a service-oriented architecture for NM’s systems. NM is now planning a second phase of digital transformation, which will support the NM function for the next 20 years.