Working together to better manage summer 2019

19 March 2019

How to manage air traffic effectively across the European network is a top priority for the EUROCONTROL Network Manager (NM), and was the main theme of this year’s NM User Forum. Now on its 22nd edition, the NM User Forum saw over 200 operational stakeholders (air navigation service providers (ANSPs), airspace operators (AOs), airports, international organisations, regulators and the industry) from 39 countries gather at EUROCONTROL HQ to discuss together how best to manage summer 2019 – together.

In order to plan better for this year, the Forum stressed the importance of gaining insight into the precise aspects that made summer 2018 a particular challenge. AOs, airports, ANSPs and the NM Operation Centre (NMOC) looked at the impact of delayed flights on busy airports, as well as the impact of volatile traffic predictions on air traffic control and on flight plan management (FPM). 

With 2018’s findings firmly in mind, NM User Forum discussions concentrated around the following measures to improve what is expected to be a very difficult summer ahead.

Deliver enhanced network measures

Building on the success of the SES Award-winning NM4ACC initiative, NM has defined Enhanced NM/ANSP Network Measures for Summer 2019 (eNM/S19), with a focus on a cooperative network approach involving NM and virtually all of Europe’s ANSPs, who have agreed to mutually support each other for the benefit of the network. In addition to the 30 bilateral meetings held by ANSPs and organised between November 2018 and January 2019, approximately 250 strategic airspace organisation and utilisation measures have been agreed.

Manage weather better

Weather issues during summer 2018 exacerbated the current general lack of capacity in the network, and highlighted the need for better weather management, with a particular emphasis on learning from existing best practices.

With this in mind, participants agreed to confront this summer by taking a more ‘network-centric’ approach – managing summer and winter differently, allowing for a single view forecast, and accepting that different stakeholders face different limitations and needs.

Follow NMOC advice

Among general “Do’s and don’ts” for pilots, air traffic controllers and dispatchers, the NMOC asked FMPs to follow suggestions from NMOC staff when faced with an issue.

Increase collaboration

NM User Forum speakers and participants were united on the need for greater collaboration between actors. There were calls for airlines and airports to be given the opportunity to give their inputs to aid decision-making.

While the capacity of the network is expected to be less than 2018 and traffic is estimated to increase (causing air traffic flow management delays similar to those of 2018), two important measures will help reduce the challenge of 2019: enhanced network measures will be put in place and implemented before the busy season, and collaboration and commitment to a network-oriented approach from all operational stakeholders is increasingly there, with all actors willing to play their role within the network.

Next edition

With a solid common understanding of what is needed for summer 2019, record attendance, and an 85% overall satisfaction rate, this year’s Forum was a clear success – you can watch and download the presentations from the 2019 NM User Forum on the dedicated event page.  

Learn more

Next year’s event will take place on 29 and 30 January 2020.

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