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Trials for dynamic flight planning restrictions aim to make flights more direct and more sustainable

Flight Efficiency

The EUROCONTROL Network Manager (NM) in close cooperation with air navigation service providers DSNA, ENAIRE, ENAV and Skyguide and supported by airspace users, has finished a first set of trials to dynamically reduce restrictions for flight planning to ensure more direct, more sustainable flights.

By dynamically relaxing selected restrictions for more than 2,500 flights, per flight an average of 44 kg of fuel has been saved and 138 kg CO2 emissions reduced. These initial results confirm that this improved measure could contribute significantly to lowering aviation’s environmental impact.

The NM’s “dynamic RAD live trials” have been designed to validate both the concept and the feasibility of dynamically managing restrictions in such a way that they could temporarily be disabled depending on specific traffic levels, adding a flexibility that will further improve flight planning options for airspace users.

These activities complement the EUROCONTROL NM initiative, in cooperation with ANSPs, to suspend temporarily more than 1,200 network restrictions when the COVID-19 pandemic first hit European aviation in March 2020. This allowed airspace users to improve their flight planning options and promoted more efficient trajectories. These measures have been extended until 24 March 2022.

“With our “dynamic RAD live trials” we are delivering on our promise to operational stakeholders that we will do our utmost to ensure that as few restrictions as possible are inserted back into the network. The trials are a concrete example of how we constantly work with our ANSP and airspace user partners to optimise flight efficiency and lower emissions.”

The first set of operational trials started in August and finished in December 2021, with DSNA FMP coordinator Ludovic Isnard emphasing that “despite the complexity in the preparation and some technical issues solved during the trial period, the coordination between local flow management positions (FMPs) and the Airspace Management Cell (AMC) went well, with requests successfully managed with the assistance of a tool developed internally by DSNA. No operational issues were detected due to the release of restrictions/opening of night DCT to day schedule. DSNA confirms its willingness to carry on experiments on dynamic RAD and is interested to see the feedback on the usage of the opportunities offered.” As a next step, NM is coordinating with NATS and DSNA to continue the trials in the first quarter of 2022.

Next steps

With the conclusion of the live trials, the EUROCONTROL NM will present the outcomes to stakeholders via the various operational NM working arrangements involved in preparing the trials. These discussions aim to validate the concept and the scope of its applicability. Improvements of processes/procedures as well as systems are envisaged including possible technical developments that could need to be factored into EUROCONTROL’s digital transformation project, iNM (integrated Network Management).

Learn more about improved flight planning since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic