The creation of a new airport is a significant change on the map of European aviation, and it does not happen overnight.
The symbolic launch of the New Istanbul Airport took place on 29 October 2018. The major infrastructure is a big addition to the European Network, and on shores of the Black Sea, the New Istanbul Airport is, in its first phase, expected to serve 90 million passengers annually.
All aviation operations will move to the new airport at the end of December when Istanbul’s main international airport, named after Turkey’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, will close down.
The EUROCONTROL Network Manager has been working in close collaboration with the Turkish Authorities - DHMI - to support the project.
The construction of the new airport has a major impact on many operational and technical aspects, as well as on neighbouring countries. Its geographical location implies a radical change of airspace design, the creation of new routes, and different approach operations.
One of the most important developments in relation to the full operation of the Istanbul New Airport was the airspace design. Under the chairmanship and supervision of the EUROCONTROL Network Manager, several bilateral meetings with Turkey were organised, as well as multilateral meetings between Turkey, Greece, Romania and Bulgaria. The en-route airspace redesign was built on properly designed terminal airspace organisation. Also conducted was the review and signature of the Letters of Agreement.
Once airspace re-design is agreed on, on paper, it needs to be “tested”. DHMI Turkey asked EUROCONTROL to help validate the implementation of the new airport. A series of customised simulation sessions perfectly replicating the complex future DHMI system was conducted by the EUROCONTROL Experimental Centre (EEC) teams in Brétigny to support the implementation.
The simulations brought together about 300 DHMI air traffic controllers for more than 90 measured exercises. These were conducted by the NM Simulation Unit on EUROCONTROL’s ESCAPE ATC and TMA simulator, at the EEC, while at the same time, Istanbul tower controllers used EUROCONTROL’s tower simulator to manage the ground.
The configuration of the runways will allow for parallel independent approach, a very specific technique, which requires specific training for air traffic controllers. EUROCONTROL facilitated an agreement with controllers from Charles de Gaulle airport to help Turkish controllers become more acquainted with this type of approach.
Further work went on at the EUROCONTROL Network Manager Operations Centre in Brussels to operationally validate the new airspace structure and ensure that the airspace data was properly integrated to meet the flight planning expectants.