Press release

Civil and military air traffic control in Belgium to be managed with a single air traffic management system

Belgium – As from December 2019, the military air traffic controllers of the Belgian Ministry of Defence and the civil air traffic controllers at EUROCONTROL’s Maastricht Upper Area Control Centre (MUAC) will all be using the upgraded MUAC air traffic management system – a concept known as the Shared ATS System (SAS2). Site acceptance testing - the last major milestone before the system goes live next December – has been successfully completed.

Air traffic control services in the airspace of Belgium and Luxembourg are provided by three different organisations: the Belgian Ministry of Defence for military Operational Air Traffic (OAT) and skeyes and MUAC for civil General Air Traffic (GAT) in lower airspace and upper airspace (from 24,500 feet) respectively.

The advantages of a Shared ATS System are many: enhanced coordination between civil and military controllers at both ends, enhanced safety and situational awareness, better communications, economies of scale, system commonality, shared tools, joint software/hardware upgrades – ultimately leading to enhanced performance.

Over the last two years, the SAS2 concept has been developed in order to integrate into MUAC's current Air Traffic Management system the specific functionalities required for military air traffic control. The required hardware was installed at the skeyes site in Steenokkerzeel and at the airbases of Beauvechain, Kleine-Brogel, Koksijde and Florennes. Recently the site acceptance test was successfully carried out - proof that the system can provide air traffic control services at the various military sites as well as for civil air traffic in various locations. This site acceptance test consisted of a series of technical tests conducted mainly at night to minimise the impact on MUAC operations. This means that the project is now in its final implementation phase.

The final phase of the project will concentrate on further developments to integrate the latest functionalities required, intensive training for the military air traffic controllers and technicians who will be using and monitoring the new system, and development of the remaining installations. The SAS2 system will initially be used for limited military air traffic control operations in early December 2019. Ultimately, the SAS2 system will support all military air traffic control by March 2020.

The commissioning of the SAS2 system by the Belgian Ministry of Defence coincides with the move of the military Air Traffic Control Centre (ATCC) from Semmerzake to the skeyes site in Steenokkerzeel. In parallel, a study was launched by the Ministry of Defence, MUAC and skeyes to assess the feasibility of implementing the Shared ATS System concept at skeyes - the SAS3 - by 2025. This would allow the three organisations responsible for Belgian/Luxembourg airspace to use a single air traffic control system for both civil and military traffic and to enhance cooperation and synergies, thereby contributing to the development of the Single European Sky.

EU co-financed
SAS2 is co-financed by the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), a European organisation. The CEF is part of the EU Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA).

For further information:

EUROCONTROL's Maastricht UAC

Mireille Roman
Tel: +31 43 366 1352
Email:muac.info@eurocontrol.int

Belgian Defence - General Directorate Material Resources (DGMR)

Johan Lievens, Head of Communications DGMR,
Tel.: +32 (0)2 4 419 419
Sebastien Haverals, Material Manager ATM,
Tel.: +32 (0)2 44 16249

Email: dgmr-com@mil.be

Note to editors

About Belgian Defence

The General Directorate of Material Resources (DGMR) is responsible for the implementation of Defence material resources and for their integrated management during their complete lifecycle and for all technical and logistical support (weapons systems, communication and information systems, infrastructure, equipment and support products). The equipment made available to the Components must be modern, efficient, available in sufficient quantity, and adapted to the circumstances in which it will be used, while being managed in an economical and sustainable manner. The principles adopted by DGMR to achieve these objectives are to acquire equipment already in use from our partners and requiring little or no additional development (commercial/military off-the-shelf - COTS/MOTS). This makes it possible to limit the risks related to development (costs, delays, technical problems during the first implementations, etc.) and ensures a high degree of interoperability during operational deployments. The acquisition of certain equipment in an international context also provides Defence with access to high-tech equipment at a reasonable cost. Vehicles, flying equipment, ships, armament and protection, communication systems... All our equipment will be presented to you on www.mil.be

About MUAC

Operated by EUROCONTROL on behalf of four States, EUROCONTROL’s Maastricht Upper Area Control Centre (MUAC) provides civil and military cross-border air traffic control in the upper airspace of Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and north-west Germany (from 7.5 km or 24,500 feet). Some 1.9 million flights pass through MUAC’s area of responsibility each year, making it the third busiest air traffic control facility in Europe in terms of traffic volume. During the summer, peak days see over 5,700 flights. MUAC’s international area of responsibility is a perfect example of the simplification and harmonisation of airspace in Europe and is fully in line with the objectives of the Single European Sky.