HungaroControl heads free route testing

Hungarian, Polish and Slovakian air traffic control services are developing 12 new, shorter routes in HungaroControl’s Centre of Research, Development and Simulation (CRDS) in a first phase of international tests.

The routes connect destinations in the region between the Baltic Sea and Southern Hungary. An annual saving of half a million dollars and 4.6 per cent reduction of CO2 emission coudl be delivered in the first phase.

The introduction of the ‘free route’ concept could decrease the distance actually flown on the tested routes by at least 117,000 kilometres, thus reducing CO2 emission by 1,100 tons.

Airlines could achieve significant savings, i.e. at least 714,000 litres of kerosene, in the first tested airspace alone, which means a saving of about half a million dollars per year in fuel costs, not to mention maintenance and amortization costs and personnel expenditures.

Twelve new, shorter routes were examined this May by the Hungarian, Polish and Slovakian air traffic control services in the first phase of a joint test series, involving north-south air traffic routes between the Baltic Sea and Southern Hungary.

A recently published analysis revealed that introduction of ‘free route’ concept would reduce distances flown by at least 117,000 kilometres and kerosene consumption by at least 714,000 litres, where calculation was based on the flight parameters of Europe’s most common aircraft and the around 3,500 aircraft operated on these analysed routes in a year.

This would mean an annual saving of at least half a million dollars in fuel for airlines (not to mention the related maintenance and amortization costs and personnel expenditures). Moreover, flying time could be reduced by 3.5 minutes per flight on an average, while CO2 emissions would decrease by 4.6 per cent. Austria, Croatia, Slovenia and Serbia took part in the programme as observers.

“Cost reduction in the industry is a key issue in Europe in these days. The experience of HungaroControl’s own developments and new procedures shows that increasing efficiency and reducing airlines’ operating costs is not only possible by cutting direct costs but also by innovative developments. Moreover, this approach may even produce more significant results than the forced speed of tariff reduction of air navigation services”, said Kornél Szepessy, CEO of HungaroControl.

According to the data published by Eurocontrol the fees paid by airlines for air traffic control represent an average of about 6-7 per cent of the operating costs of airlines, while IATA estimated the proportion of fuel costs 32 per cent in 2012. There are several routes in the European airspace that could be shortened, thus offering a significant saving potential.

The Croatian air traffic control service is expected to join the next phase of the test series, thus expanding the region where the rationalization and shortening of the existing routes can be tested. The more countries will be involved in the next phases of the test series, the more complex and significant results can be achieved, which can influence the operation of the entire European airspace.

During the simulations that require significant expertise and close cooperation the CRDS engineers are able to make exact copies of the airspace sectors and software operating interfaces of any European country, so air traffic controllers coming to Budapest from abroad can also run simulations with maximum efficiency. The test series is in accordance with the cooperation agreement concluded by HungaroControl and Eurocontrol, and contributes to the success of the Single European Sky initiative.

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