Use cases

Improving and automating CDM processes between airspace users, flow managers and NMOC

Experts working on CDM processes

Two SESAR solution teams – PJ07.01 and PJ09.03 - joined their expertise in flight planning and flow management domains to organise several shadow mode exercises in March/December 2018 and April 2019. Three air navigation service providers (ANSPs) and more than ten dispatchers from various airlines participated in the effort.

Europe has been facing a strong increase of air traffic flow management (ATFM) delays due in particular to airspace capacity constraints. A critical threshold has been reached in the 2018 summer reinforcing the need for improving collaborative processes between Airspace Users (AU) and flow managers in order to reduce costs of delays, better use spare network capacity and minimise the risk of demand instability impacting negatively safety and capacity. There are also strong needs from ANSPs and AUs for increased automation, standardisation of collaborative decision-making (CDM) processes in order to reduce operator’s workload, and operating costs, including the particular case of identified top critical flights according to AU preferences. In the latter case, EUROCONTROL Network Manager Operations Centre (NMOC) also plays a key role in the CDM process.

Assessing the impact of enriched information exchanges

New concept elements and functions are defined and combined to develop win-win solutions considering both AU individual business needs and network management constraints. The scope of the improvements includes:

  • Enriched flow management information and advanced what-if functions integrated in AU flight planning systems allowing dispatchers to better identify network opportunities and constraints and optimise their planned trajectories.
  • The sharing of AU preferences and critical flights indication allowing flow managers to define measures minimising impact on users cost and together with NMOC reduce Air Traffic Flow and Capacity Management (ATFCM) delay of top critical flights when possible.

The main objectives of the joint exercises were:

  • Validate operational requirements, new procedures, and top critical flight related rules.
  • Assess the operational feasibility and the impact on operators’ tasks and workload.

During the sessions, various scenarios were played:

  • Airspace users driven scenarios where dispatchers were proactively managing the impact of demand-capacity balancing (DCB) constraints on their fleet using enriched DCB information and what-if functions.
  • flow management position (FMP) driven scenarios where the flow managers where solving DCB problems through the proposal of cherry picking measures to AUs which could in reply  propose alternative trajectory taking into account their AU business needs and the network situation.
  • critical flights management scenarios where the AUs could tag in the Network Operations Plan (NOP) the top critical flights of their fleet for which ATFCM delay is particularly costly.  NMOC in collaboration with Flow managers were looking at the possibility to either prioritise the concerned flights in the ATFCM slot allocation or propose alternative measures like level capping/re-routings.

“The joint exercise provided us with a very good opportunity to discuss and experiment with other AUs, FMPs and NM operators concrete evolutions both responding to ours needs and taking into account network management constraints. Integration of DCB information in our  own system and automation  of decisions should be key aspects to consider in future validation to minimise our workload.“

Flight Dispatcher & ATM Project Manager, Air France

“The series of validation exercises at Bretigny EUROCONTROL Experimental Centre were a valuable opportunity for NATS to participate alongside a spectrum of operational ATM users in real time simulations. The combining of PJ07 and PJ09 teams for the validations improved the understanding of each-others’ priorities and constraints - which we are confident will influence the development of the concept within Wave 2 and ultimately the realisation of the concept within the EUROCONTROL toolset.”

Enterprise Architect NATS

Integrating flow management information in AU trajectory optimisation through SWIM

The validation relied on a very realistic simulation environment using the EUROCONTROL Network Manager (NM) validation platform (NMVP) including replicas of legacy systems like our initial flight plan processing system (IFPS) or enhanced tactical flow management system (ETFMS) and integrating new NM B2B web services and advanced what-if functions for Airspace Users as well as dedicated prototypes developed by EUROCONTROL. The simulation environment was fed with operational data as well.

At a glance




ACC centres


airline dispatchers


simulation days

The prototype developed for the dispatchers provided to the AUs a very concrete demonstration of the possibilities offered by the new NM functions and B2B services to integrate flow management information within their own flight planning system. This is a key step towards the full automation of AUs trajectory planning processes.

Learn more


Network manager validation platform


Network Manager business-to-business web services

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