Performance Insight #6 - 20 years of performance-oriented approach for ATM in Europe

A success story?

The objective of this PRC performance insight edition is to look at the major developments and trends in terms of ATM performance over the past 20 years before the start of the COVID crisis in 2020.

Did the performance-oriented approach in ATM work as foreseen? How did the system change and what does it mean for the future? What lessons can be learned?

This report provides a brief description of the institutional background and illustrates some trends in terms of changes in air traffic demand in the European ATM system over the past 20 years. Subsequently, it highlights some of the network wide initiatives to improve the performance of the ATM network. The last part of the paper evaluates how ATM performance has changed over time and what lessons could be learned from the past with a view to further improve ATM performance in the future.

The key findings are that:

  • Focus on performance clearly yielded benefits but has not delivered the improvements anticipated.
  • Increased network focus and less fragmentation is key to realising future performance improvements.
  • The capacity crisis in 2018/19 underlined that a balanced approach is necessary to avoid one performance area improving at the expense of others.
  • Delivering future performance requires transformational change not just evolution.

Download the full report below to find out more


This PRC Performance Insight document has been prepared by the EUROCONTROL Performance Review Unit (PRU) for the Performance Review Commission (PRC).

The PRC is in the process to establish a “Transformation Support Strategy” to drive the cooperation with stakeholders regarding the observed (and expected) performance enhancement from the modernisation of air navigation services in Europe. This includes the realised performance enhancement from emerging/novel operational concepts and associated enablers, but also entails “flagship” projects addressing specific capability gaps.

The latest developments in Europe in support to the modernisation of ATM led to the development of two important documents, the Airspace Architecture Study report, and the European ATM Master Plan. One of the key common elements of these strategic documents is to implement virtualisation, automation, and digitalisation of ATM.

For this purpose, the PRC has developed an initial scoping paper to analyse - in collaboration with key stakeholder (Skyguide and FINEST) - how ATM capacity and scalability will be impacted by the technical transformation process and new operational concepts, taking the example of virtualisation in general and virtual centres in particular.


Performance Insight #6: 20 years of performance-oriented approach for ATM in Europe