Greater flexibility and efficiency in European airspace
Maastricht, the Netherlands - Since 25 April 2019, cross-border free route airspace (FRA) managed by EUROCONTROL’s Maastricht Upper Area Control Centre (MUAC), Naviair, LFV and DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung has allowed cross-border free route operations.
Airspace users planning to fly in the upper airspace between Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and Sweden can now do so irrespective of airspace boundaries. This allows for optimised routings, fuel savings and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
Cross-border free route operations enable airspace users to file trajectories in their flight plan irrespective of existing airspace boundaries within and between
- the Danish-Swedish Functional Airspace Block free route airspace,
- the free route airspace provided by EUROCONTROL MUAC (covering Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and north-west Germany) and
- the north-eastern part of DFS’s free route airspace in Germany.
Flight plan routes can now rely on more efficient direct route options across different volumes of airspace. These new routing options are only available for traffic departing/arriving in the Danish-Swedish Functional Airspace Block (DK-SE FAB).
The general objective of free route airspace is to allow airspace users to plan their routes more closely to their desired flight profiles in comparison with the currently published ATS routes and direct routes. This results in better cost-efficiency, and reduces the impact on the environment by decreasing fuel burn and greenhouse gas emissions. Simultaneously, it allows the highest safety and capacity levels to be maintained or improved.
Free route airspace was first implemented in the DK-SE FAB in 2011, and was then linked in May 2017 to the North European Functional Airspace Block (NEFAB – Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia) free route airspace. Meanwhile, FABEC members EUROCONTROL MUAC and DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung (Germany) started implementing free route airspace in their respective areas of responsibility in 2017 and 2018 respectively.
In addition to these effective or ongoing implementations of free route airspace at national level, one of the ambitions of the Single European Sky is to foster cross-border implementations of free route airspace. The cross-border free route airspace offered by EUROCONTROL MUAC, DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung, LFV and Naviair is fully in line with these ambitions.
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Note to editor:
The airspace of the six FABEC States of Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland is one of the busiest and most complex in the world. The majority of major European airports, major civil airways and military training areas are located in this area. FABEC airspace covers 1.7 million km² and handles about 6 million flights per year – 55% of European air traffic.
NUAC HB is a joint subsidiary owned by Danish Naviair and Swedish LFV ANSPs. The company is certified as an ATS-provider by the authorities and operates the three ATCCs in Copenhagen, Malmoe and Stockholm. On behalf of Naviair and LFV, NUAC provides en route operations to DK-SE Functional Airspace Block (DK-SE FAB).
EUROCONTROL is an intergovernmental organisation with 41 Member States. Operated by EUROCONTROL on behalf of four States, EUROCONTROL’s Maastricht Upper Area Control Centre (MUAC) provides cross-border air traffic control for the upper airspace of Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and north-west Germany. 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 close to 5,700 flights.