Routeing For Success

The implementation of a modernised en-route air traffic control system is not a piece of cake, but when the right ingredients are brought together, the transition phase can be a success, reports Eurocontrol.

On 17 November, the air traffic control centre in Bordeaux started Phase 1 of the implementation of the ‘Electronic Environment ERATO’ project, following a period of thorough preparation between the French air navigation service provider, DSNA, Aircraft Operators, neighbouring ACC’s and the Network Manager. This is a major exercise, involving changing the ways of working of all 280 air traffic controllers at Bordeaux.

A transition period is inevitable and this means that capacity is temporarily reduced so that air traffic controllers can be fully familiarised with the new system and its capabilities.

The live traffic situation on 17 November 2016, the day the air traffic control centre in Bordeaux started Phase 1 of the implementation of the ‘Electronic Environment ERATO’ project.

The live traffic situation on 17 November 2016, the day the air traffic control centre in Bordeaux started Phase 1 of the implementation of the ‘Electronic Environment ERATO’ project.

In order to minimise the impact, DSNA and the Network Manager initiated planning and coordination six months ago when dedicated focal points and teams were put in place in Bordeaux, Paris (DSNA HQ) and in Brussels. Initial plans and options were proposed at the beginning of the summer 2016 in order to best assess the impact of each of them. On 3 October, the scenarios, capacity levels, staffing and reroute design were defined in the final plan.

The traffic simulations carried out by the Network Manager showed that up to 400 flights a day would need to be rerouted during Phase 1 of the implementation to avoid the Bordeaux airspace.

Neighbouring control centres played their part to ensure a smooth transition; the Spanish ANSP ENAIRE rostered extra staff up to summer levels in Madrid and Barcelona ACCs to offer the capacity needed and the military agreed to cancel exercises to release the airspace.In Brussels, the Network Manager Operations Centre (NMOC) has been holding regular daily network teleconferences to inform the airlines of the daily plan provided by DSNA.

It has been a real success so far and the airline operators have been very positive in their feedback. The network has registered relatively few delays and the capacity of Bordeaux’s airspace is already increasing back towards normal levels, hence reducing the mileage flown and additional cost to the operators.

Maurice Georges, CEO of DSNA, said: “DSNA staff is totally mobilized with the implementation of this major project. I appreciate the efforts made by the entire aviation community to ensure a successful commissioning of the Electronic Environment ERATO in Bordeaux. The transitioning phase ahead of us relies on high predictability for all flights and trustworthy collaborative processes with our customers and partners.”

For the first time in the case of a new ATM system implementation, a team from Bordeaux ACC and DSNA headquarters were present in the Brussels NM Operations Centre to man a position specially created for ERATO. This made a big difference – with much better awareness of the situation which, in turn, improved coordination, flexibility and reactiveness.

For the first time a dedicated Portlet was made available on the NOP Portal to provide detailed pre-tactical and tactical information to airspace users.

This is a perfect example of good coordination between an ANSP and the Network Manager, which made for one of the best transitions ever to a new ATM system implementation,” said Joe Sultana, director Network Manager.

Read France prepares for ERATO at Bordeaux ACC

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