Modernising France’s air traffic management together: the implementation of the new 4-FLIGHT system

ATCOs at work

The EUROCONTROL Network Manager (NM) and France’s air navigation service provider DSNA are closely cooperating on the implementation of 4-FLIGHT, France’s new state-of-the-art air traffic management modernisation project.

DSNA’s 4-FLIGHT system will improve air traffic performance and increase resilience – providing operational staff with modern tools to handle air traffic safely and efficiently, whilst minimising environmental impact.

“The EUROCONTROL Network Manager strongly supports the implementation of France’s next generation air traffic management 4-FLIGHT system in full collaboration with all operational stakeholders. During the implementation period of this significant technological transformation, NM coordinates with air navigation service provides, aircraft operators and other partners to enable the implementation of network measures that facilitate the operational performance. There has been an excellent cooperation with DSNA and among many operational stakeholders in a true spirit of collegiality.”

“The implementation of 4-FLIGHT represents a major step forward for air navigation in France. The operational performance of this new-generation ATM system will be of benefit not only to France but also the entire European network. I would like to highlight the remarkable work of the DSNA / Thales teams and the efficient coordination with the NM teams to integrate 4-FLIGHT in a global operational environment.”

Starting in April 2022 with an operational consolidation phase, 4-FLIGHT was implemented officially in the Reims Area Control Centre (ACC) on June 14th, 2022. It will then be put in place in the remaining four French ACCs successively, by 2026. The successful implementation of 4-FLIGHT relies very much on a combination of local and network expertise: nine months before the start of the implementation phase, weekly coordination meetings were already being held between DSNA and NM to share detailed information about the transition and to discuss improvements to minimize the network impact. Based on discussions with DSNA, NM undertook a full impact assessment, including network measures to optimise capacity and demand balancing during the transition with the support of all adjacent service providers. Operational stakeholders from across Europe have been working together in order to decrease the impact of the transition on the network, focusing also on minimising the environmental impact by limiting route extensions and level capping.

The impact for the network has been greatly reduced with an improved plan, including better human resources availability together with the physical presence of DSNA ATFM specialists in the NM operations’ room during the critical first two weeks of implementation. Despite challenges along the way, the 4-FLIGHT roll-out has been a clear success, both for Reims ACC and for the network as sector capacities have been gradually raised after the first weeks of operations. The traffic and demand balancing has been constantly monitored through the rolling Network Operations Plan (NOP), and weekly meetings with the stakeholders involved have meant that restrictions have been kept to the minimum necessary. A gradual suspension of the network measures has started and will continue until the beginning of October, when all the measures will be lifted.

Next steps

DSNA and NM are already working closely together to prepare the next transition plans, for Marseille ACC in December 2022 and for Paris ACC in December 2023. Brest and Bordeaux ACCs will follow. All operational stakeholders in the network will be part of this process through the coordination of NM.

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