Weighing up the risks and taking appropriate measures

4 July 2016

Business continuity is vital - and planning for it, equally so. The EUROCONTROL Network Manager recently trialled a way of maintaining the continuity of the Network Manager Operations Centre (NMOC).

As part of our risk-management strategy, we recently took a close look at our plans for operational business continuity. We identified staff unavailability as being potentially significant - and by that, we mean that should our Brussels-based Network Manager Operations Centre (NMOC) have to close completely, what would we do with the staff that run it?

In the past, we decided that we would transfer our staff to the EUROCONTROL Experimental Centre in France, where there is complete redundancy of NM systems. But we realised that if the situation were to take a while to resolve, there might be a problem. Our Brussels-based NMOC staff work shifts and for them to work out of south Paris for more than three months would be untenable.

So, we decided to set up a site in Brussels which would be much closer for staff to access; a site which could connect either to the systems in Haren or to the contingency ones in Brétigny.

We decided to team up with EUROCONTROL Central Route Charges Office by renting space at a contingency access site not far from where we are now. This gives us a room with workstations, each comprising a desk, chair, screen and telephone. With internet access, we can work remotely, using either the NMOC Brussels systems or the Brétigny contingency ones. The contingency access site has no servers: there is simply a secure internet VPN (virtual private network) connection.

A live trial for working at this contingency access site was run on 15 June 2016 and was successful. Like all good trials, it revealed some issues that will have to be addressed, but we were able to run air traffic flow and capacity management, flight plan processing and airspace data management in full operations from the contingency access site.

We also tested our teleconference system for both operational customers and the European Aviation Crisis Coordination Cell (EACCC). The test ran without a hitch.

The contingency access site should obviate the need for staff to go to Brétigny, so saving time and money. However, should there be a Brussels- or Belgium-wide problem, then staff would have to go to Brétigny. But this scenario does not seem to be a probable one at this juncture.

In all, we are taking advantage of modern connectivity solutions and safeguarding our business continuity at a reasonable cost, while ensuring that our users will have the best possible service, should a contingency situation or crisis arise.

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