Belgian Defence to deploy MUAC’s Shared Air Traffic Services System at several military sites in Belgium

22 December 2016

Evere, Belgium – The air traffic control system of EUROCONTROL’s Maastricht Upper Area Control Centre (MUAC) will be deployed at several military sites across Belgium for the provision of military air traffic services in Belgian airspace. Jac Jansen, representing EUROCONTROL MUAC, and Major General Rudy Debaene, acting Director General Material Resources, today signed an agreement concerning the provision of air traffic control data services to Belgian Defence.

This decision by the Belgian State underpins the recommendations of a study which assessed the operational and technical feasibility of deploying a Shared ATS System (SAS) at Belgian Defence sites as a cost-effective solution for the replacement of the SEROS II system, which is currently reaching the end of its life cycle. The shared ATS system will become operational in 2019 at the air traffic control centre (ATCC) for en-route military operations and at the ATC towers in Koksijde, Beauvechain, Florennes and Kleine-Brogel for approach and tower operations.

The Shared ATS System is a pioneering data services project allowing ATM data services to be provided by one air navigation service provider to another, whether civil or military. It helps alleviate the defragmentation of the European network and lays the foundations for SESAR’s Virtual Centre Concept.

Military controllers in Belgium will use the same flight data processing system, controller working positions and human-machine interface as those used at MUAC. This entails processing information (e.g. correlated aircraft tracks and flight plans) for en-route, approach and tower control operations. The project will require adaptation of the MUAC flight data processing system and controller working positions in order to integrate the Belgian Defence airspace and sectors and to develop and implement the specific military functions identified in the feasibility study.

The primary benefit of a shared air traffic view is increased safety, thanks to a closer understanding between military and civil controllers. Economies of scale are also secured through common development and maintenance resources. As MUAC facilities are upgraded and/or developed to SESAR standards, the improvements will automatically flow to the Belgian Defence sites served from MUAC. Furthermore, where in the past oral coordination procedures were used for synchronisation purposes, this process will now be automated, bringing with it a significant reduction in workload for both supervisors and controllers in Belgium and at Maastricht. Use of a common system provides important efficiency gains as civil controllers are aware of the status of the military areas and the intentions of the military aircraft operating in these areas, allowing more effective capacity management.

The Shared ATS System is based on a proven Virtual Centre Concept developed and deployed by MUAC across various Royal Netherlands Air Force sites in 2013. The system is robust, and we have every confidence that our Belgian colleagues have made a good choice. Furthermore, MUAC and Slovenia Control are currently engineering a demonstrator as part of the ATM Data as a Service (AdaaS) Project. This Project, which is co-funded by the European Union, aims to deploy a prototype which will support the provision of air traffic services in Slovenian airspace using the MUAC flight data processing system, controller working positions and human-machine interface”, says Jac Jansen, Director of MUAC.

"The Material Resources General Directorate can only confirm the advantages of this cooperation," says Major General Rudy Debaene. "Quite apart from the economic advantages and those of reducing the numbers of specialised military technicians, this cooperation constitutes an important step forwards in the management of Belgian airspace, which will become more efficient and safer, thanks to two of the three actors involved."

According to Major General Frederik Vansina, Commander of the Belgian Air Component, "Cooperation in the same system ensures smoother coordination and communication, which can only be of benefit to flight safety."

For further information, contact:

Mireille Roman,
Tel.: +31 6 55861279

Belgian Defence
Johan Lievens,
Tel.: +32 (0)2 44 18 269

Note to editors
Operated by EUROCONTROL on behalf of four States, EUROCONTROL’s Maastricht Upper Area Control Centre (MUAC) provides control for the upper airspace (above 24,500 feet, i.e. approximately 7,500 metres) of Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and north-west Germany. The international area of responsibility it covers is a perfect example of the simplification and harmonisation of airspace in Europe. MUAC is a model for cross-border projects in the spirit of the Single European Sky. More than 1.7 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 close to 5,500 flights. The Belgian Air Component stands out thanks to its high-tech aircraft and active engagement all over the world. Our aircraft are used for air embargoes, targeted bombing, close air support, air policing, humanitarian transport, international training and support for the nation. Our aircraft and helicopters are available wherever they are required, even at very short deadlines. There are plenty of specific examples. From the Afghan air base in Kandahar, six F-16s provided air support for the ISAF troops on the ground. In 2011, six other F-16s helped protect the Libyan people against Gaddafi's authoritarian regime. In central Africa, our C-130s can help evacuate westerners in serious crises. In Belgium, our Sea King helicopters have been saving people's lives for decades. The Ministry of Defence is proud of these achievements. Civilian and military personnel are continually looking after each aircraft. Pilots, technicians, electrical engineers, air traffic controllers, engineers, avionics specialists, air commandos, administrative personnel and logistical staff are all giving the best of themselves. If any one link fails, that can have consequences for the entire chain and even for our mission. That is why motivation, professionalism and solidarity are fundamental values of the Belgian Air Component.

Maastricht UAC Media Relations Department

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