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Partnering for operational excellence

Members of NDOP at their end-2019 meeting

Europe’s air traffic management network is working as one – more so than ever before – in identifying future challenges and making solid plans to circumvent potential issues.

A recent two-day meeting of the Network Directors of Operations Forum (NDOP) in Madrid, hosted by ENAIRE, was evidence of this newly invigorated cooperative spirit.

Over 50 NDOP participants – representing air navigation service providers, international civil and military organisations, airspace and airline associations – looked at plans for future airspace design and architecture; they discussed ways of making air traffic management more scalable and efficient. They spoke about how to increase capacity without compromising safety and simultaneously reducing aviation’s environmental impact.

Tackling 2020

NDOP’s focus on network capacity in preparation for 2020.

In summer 2019, the joint efforts of operational stakeholders - coordinated by the EUROCONTROL Network Manager - helped successfully to balance demand and capacity by applying a network-wide approach and the flexible use of airspace concept. As a result, delays in summer 2019 were demonstrably lower than those of summer 2018. NDOP resolved to do even better next summer through a more focused application of the new EUROCONTROL/NM Action Plan for Summer 2020.

Improving performance beyond 2020

Launched in the Autumn of 2018, the airspace re-structuring programme is progressing with first steps implemented in 2019, additional steps foreseen for 2020 but with more structural changes foreseen over the entire reporting period 3 (RP3). It addresses both environment and capacity performance areas through the utilisation of the free route airspace implementation across the European airspace as means to offer solutions for both performance areas.

To boost the benefits of the Airspace re-structuring programme, the first building blocks have also been laid for the Operational excellence programme. This programme is aimed at exploiting existing network and local capabilities to contribute to the achievement of the RP3 operational performance targets. Its goal is to contribute to the defragmentation of the European airspace, to facilitate seamless cross-border operations and to effectively support harmonised/standardised implementation to improve operational performance and align to best-in-class performance. Benefits will start emerging as from 2020 with full implementation towards the end of RP3.

What next?

Commenting on the NDOP afterwards, Iacopo Prissinotti, Director Network Management at EUROCONTROL, observed:

“We made significant decisions to foster the performance of the European ATM network for 2020 and beyond.

“Speaking with one voice, we are committed to preparing properly for next summer: we will further improve airport operations, support the acceleration of CNS infrastructure evolutions and make the necessary operational arrangements to facilitate NATO’s activities.”