Air Traffic Management STRATEGY, TECHNOLOGY AND MANAGEMENT FOR THE WORLD'S MOST GLOBAL INDUSTRY Fri, 21 Nov 2014 12:33:32 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Eurocontrol, EDA team on SESAR Fri, 21 Nov 2014 12:33:32 +0000 More ››]]> Eurocontrol and the European Defence Agency (EDA) have taken an important step to strengthen their cooperation by signing a joint work programme covering the coming two years.

The work programme puts in place a close cooperation between the two organisations in the domain of the Single European Sky ATM research programme, SESAR.

It provides a more detailed view on the contributions from both organisations and outcomes to be achieved within this framework with a first key step being to ensure that military views are fully taken into account in related work on SESAR development.

“Eurocontrol , as a civil-military organisation, is committed to help the military community integrate fully into the Single European Sky and its research arm, SESAR,” said Frank Brenner, director general of Eurocontrol. “By working together with the European Defence Agency through a joint work programme, we are making sure that the military perspective will be fully understood and taken on board.”

Claude-France Arnould, EDA chief executive, also reflected on this important milestone: “SES and SESAR are a key priority for EDA. The European Defence Agency is determined to fully support Member States as military interface for the Single European Sky ATM research programme SESAR”, she underlined. “By bringing together Eurocontrol’s expertise of air traffic management and our technical know-how in military systems, we will be able to deliver quickly on this new joint work programme for the benefits of all”, she added.

Key elements of the joint work programme include:

- Investigating the usability and adaptability of the civil cost-benefit analysis model for military aircraft and ATM ground systems,
- How the European ATM Master Plan can be updated to incorporate military needs,
- Developing a common view of research and deployment projects of military interest that need to be implemented in order to contribute to the aims and objectives of SES.
- Putting in place a process for military involvement in regulatory activities and for developing standards with implications for the Military

The two agencies have been working together since 2008 and have, in particular been focusing on supporting their respective member states on relevant military matters regarding Single European Sky implementation, including its technological pillar SESAR.

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Borealis appoints Subotic as executive director Thu, 20 Nov 2014 16:12:59 +0000 More ››]]> Borealis, the European alliance of air navigation service providers has appointed Branka Subotic as its executive director.

Currently a senior consultant with NATS Services – the UK-based global air traffic solutions provider, was selected from a strong field of candidates and will take on the role for a two-year term.

NATS said Subotic brings significant international experience to the role, including consultancy, research, regulatory and academic experience. In recent years she has worked on major international projects including safety assurance for the introduction of the new system for area and approach control in Muscat and Salalah in Oman, opening of the new tower and new runway in Muscat in Oman, and the first phase of the GACA corporatisation project in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA).

She also has experience of the European ATM environment having previously worked on the application of Eurocontrol ATM safety regulatory requirements, development of safety management systems, safety and human factors assurance, system validation and safety cases.

The Borealis alliance is voluntary initiative bringing together the nine North European ANSPs of Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Norway, Sweden and the UK – who between them manage more than 12.5 million square kilometres of airspace, handling over 3.5 million flights a year.

It claims to represent a new way of delivering the objectives of the European Commission’s Single European Sky initiative based on business principles, rather than regulated cooperation. The alliance is currently working on a project to deliver Free Route Airspace across the whole of Northern Europe, which will enable significant environmental and cost benefits to airspace users.

Raine Luojus, director of Air Navigation Services at Finavia and current chairman of Borealis, said: “There was a strong field of candidates for this position and I’m delighted Branka has accepted our offer. Her international experience working with different countries and cultures will be invaluable and her track record of delivery gives me confidence that she can ensure the alliance is successful in the future.”

“The Borealis Alliance has huge potential to change the way we manage air traffic to deliver greater benefits to both airspace users and ANSPs. Our industry is changing and it’s only by working collaboratively to find new ways of doing things that we’ll be able to meet the challenges of future. I want the Alliance to be at the forefront of this transformation and I’m looking forward to getting started.”

Branka will take up the role in January 2015 when the current holder of the post, Lance Stuart, steps down.

Branka Subotic holds a PhD in Air Traffic Management from Imperial College London (UK), MSc in aeronautical science from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University ( USA) and MEng in air transport from University of Belgrade (Serbia). She is also a Chartered Engineer, an Assistant Professor with Embry Riddle Aeronautical University and IATA Instructor.

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Helios expands Middle East presence Thu, 20 Nov 2014 14:23:53 +0000 More ››]]> Aviation consultancy Helios has expanded its team in the Middle East and moved to larger offices in Silicon Oasis, Dubai.

The company, part of the Egis group, announced the addition of principal consultant David Adebiyi, formerly with NATS consulting, to its Middle East consultancy team.

In addition, two further consultants are relocating from Europe and the whole team is moving into substantially larger offices within Silicon Oasis.

Commenting on the news, Alan Corner, Helios’ director Middle East and Asia said: “We have had a base in Dubai for nearly 18 months now and we have had to find new premises for our growing team. We are co-located with parent company Egis, 20 of us in total, with a quarter dedicated to supporting aviation organisations in the region.

“Being on the doorstep has enabled us to develop stronger relationships with existing customers, and to win new business here too. We are anticipating continued growth over the coming months – with further postings from Europe alongside local recruitment.”

Since basing themselves in the Middle East, the company has worked for major airports, air navigation service providers and regulators throughout the region.

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BA equips with volcanic ash prototype Thu, 20 Nov 2014 14:13:18 +0000 More ››]]> ZEUS, a device developed by the British Met Office and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) to improve our understanding of atmospheric volcanic ash distribution, has been fitted to a British Airways 747 aircraft.

Following the Icelandic volcanic eruption in 2010, which caused widespread flight disruption, scientists at the Met Office and NERC developed a prototype device capable of detecting small amounts of ash in the atmosphere. In time, this research could aid ash forecasting and also help airlines more accurately plan their flight and engineering operations.

The ZEUS prototype uses measurements of static electricity to detect small levels of atmospheric volcanic ash and can distinguish between the levels of electrostatic charge on the aircraft when flying in normal conditions and when volcanic ash is present. It has been fitted on a British Airways 747 and data has already been successfully downloaded from its first flight to Johannesburg and it will continue to fly on long-haul routes around the world for a year, collecting data for analysis.

When information from ZEUS is downloaded and correlated with flight data – including weather conditions, speed, altitude and location – it’s hoped it will help scientists build a picture of volcanic ash distribution. Aircraft engineers could also use this data to schedule post-flight inspections of engines and aircraft systems.

Ian Lisk, Met Office head of natural hazards, said: “This is a very exciting development and a great result of cross-industry collaboration, including British Airways, FlyBe, NERC and the Met Office. While further development is still required, we are delighted with progress with this prototype volcanic ash sensor to date and the findings we have so far received from the tests are very promising.”

Captain Dean Plumb from British Airways said: “We were very keen to be involved in this pioneering research. Aircraft regularly encounter small quantities of ash in flights around the world, perfectly safely, and pilots use expert forecasts to avoid more dense ash clouds. ZEUS has the potential to provide a clearer picture of ash distribution and could be used to inform decision making-processes in the event of future volcanic eruptions.”

The Met Office is an expert in aviation forecasting, with responsibility for providing international aviation meteorological services and advice. The London Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), one of nine VAACs worldwide, is hosted and run by the Met Office as part of its aviation forecast operations. London VAAC provides advice on the likely dispersion of ash clouds emitted from eruptions originating in Iceland and the North East Atlantic, and this information is used by the aviation industry to help make decisions on airspace management.

“The  National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS) is the centre where NERC carries out much of its research in atmospheric science and technology. NCAS frequently works in partnership with the Met Office to help in the development of atmospheric models and observation techniques, including methods for detecting volcanic ash.”

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NextGen procedures for North Texas Wed, 19 Nov 2014 18:52:43 +0000 More ››]]> The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today announced the successful implementation of the North Texas Metroplex NextGen project, a newly launched air-traffic system that will deliver more on-time flights for passengers while reducing pollution by thousands of metric tons each year.

“The North Texas NextGen Metroplex is an example for the entire country – of the difference we can make with the help of the federal government,” said US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “This major infrastructure project means more on-time arrivals for passengers, fuel savings for airlines and reduced emissions for the environment.”

The airspace improvements will reduce miles flown by as much as 1 million nautical miles annually, based on flight plans. This will save up to 4.1 million gallons of fuel and reduce carbon emissions by as much as 41,000 metric tons each year.

“Using NextGen satellite-based technology, the FAA and its workforce have collaborated with the industry to convert the busy and complex airspace around North Texas into some of the most efficient in the nation,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.  “The result is a solution that not only benefits the National Airspace System, it benefits the aviation industry, the environment and the travelling public.”

The North Texas Metroplex project is one of the largest implemented by the FAA to date. The agency implemented similar changes in the Houston area in May. More than a dozen such projects are underway or planned in metropolitan areas across the country, including Washington D.C., Northern California, Atlanta and Charlotte. A Metroplex is a major metropolitan area with multiple airports where heavy air traffic and environmental constraints can combine to hinder efficient air traffic movement.

The North Texas Metroplex initiative included a number of strategies that streamlined the airspace and helped reduce complexity for air traffic controllers and flight crews. As part of the programme, the FAA developed 80 new procedures to take advantage of the precision of Global Positioning System (GPS) technology.

The strategies included:

  • Creating Optimized Profile Descent (OPD) procedures into Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (D/FW) and Dallas Love Field (DAL). OPDs allow pilots to almost idle the engines while the aircraft descends at a constant rate, like sliding down a banister. Previous airspace procedures required planes to level off at certain points to allow for coordination between air traffic controllers. OPDs reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions
  • Developing similarly efficient alternative routes that can be used when weather affects normal arrival and departure paths.
  • Establishing departure and arrival routes that align airplanes on preferred paths, reducing the number of miles flown.
  • Establishing a dedicated arrival route from the northwest into DAL, eliminating congestion in the airspace above D/FW.
  • Creating GPS-based arrival and departure paths for Love Field, resulting in more precise flight paths over neighborhoods near the airport.
  • Developing satellite-based departure procedures that provide predictable, repeatable flight paths that enable planes to climb steadily without leveling off from time to time, allowing them to reach a cruising altitude sooner.

The airspace improvements are part of the FAA’s Next Generation Air Transportation System, or NextGen. NextGen is a set of initiatives being implemented by the FAA in collaboration with the aviation community to ensure that the United States continues to have the safest, most efficient airspace possible for decades to come. In addition to air traffic procedures that save time and fuel and reduce emissions, NextGen is transforming the radar-based air traffic control system into a modern satellite-based system that will enable air traffic controllers to track aircraft with greater accuracy and reliability while giving pilots more information in the cockpit.

The collaborative regional partnership that made the North Texas Metroplex a success includes the FAA, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), the Professional Aviation Safety Specialists (PASS), the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA), American Airlines, Southwest Airlines and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

“The successful rollout of new airspace procedures here in North Texas proves again that NexGen is happening now. It’s no longer just the future, it is also happening in the present, and that means good things for safe, efficient flights,” NATCA President Paul Rinaldi said. “NATCA is a proud stakeholder in NextGen implementation. Our members here in North Texas air traffic control facilities, like their colleagues nationwide, have shown great enthusiasm for new technology and have worked very hard to meet the challenge of safely implementing so many changes in their airspace and workload.”

“Mission Support Services and Flight Inspection Services employees represented by PASS are committed to supporting pilots and controllers with countless flight safety products and services,” said Mike Perrone, president of the Professional Aviation Safety Specialists. “These employees have made incredible contributions to the North Texas Metroplex project and they are joining with other FAA safety professionals and stakeholders to bring NextGen to the next level in Texas and throughout the country.”

“American Airlines is pleased to have been an integral part of the North Texas Metroplex initiative,” said Robert Isom, executive vice president and chief operating officer for American Airlines. “For the past three years, we dedicated resources and worked closely with the FAA, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association and DFW Airport to complete this project. DFW is our largest hub with more than 800 flights a day. By utilizing these new procedures and the latest technology on our aircraft, we normally see a reduction of 300-500 pounds of fuel per flight which reduces our carbon emissions.”

“We certainly appreciate the efforts of the FAA to improve efficiency, lower fuel burn and emissions, and reduce delays,” said Chuck Magill, vice president for operational coordination for Southwest Airlines. “Southwest is monitoring the impact of the Metroplex plan. While the results cannot be determined at this early juncture, we intend to continue partnering with the FAA to modernize and improve the air traffic control system so that the promise of NextGen is realized for the benefit of the travelling public.”

“We look forward to flying the shorter, more efficient routes into the North Texas airspace, which will help us provide better service,” said Capt. Sean Cassidy, First Vice President of the ALPA. “The collaboration among industry, government, and the users of the system to implement this vital technological upgrade illustrates that when we work together, with a stable funding source and a long-term plan, we can significantly improve the U.S. airline industry.”

“DFW Airport is very supportive of the effort to modernize the nation’s air traffic control, as our Airport has served as an active test site for advanced air traffic safety and capacity enhancement technologies for many years,” said Sean Donohue, Chief Executive Officer of DFW International Airport.  “NextGen will make air travel more efficient and safer for our customers, and it will allow our current aviation infrastructure to be better utilized.”

“Our pilots have been working to integrate the recent procedural changes. It remains the responsibility of pilots and controllers to operate safely in the new airspace 100 percent of the time,” said Capt. Keith Wilson, President, Allied Pilots Association. “Union safety committees, working with company flight management, have participated since the onset to ensure proper procedure design, aircraft capability and pilot proficiency, all aimed at improving operational efficiency.”

>Check out “NextGen is Now in North Texas” video

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NATS unveils real-time flight efficiency tool Wed, 19 Nov 2014 15:01:42 +0000 More ››]]> Air traffic controllers are now able to analyse the environmental efficiency of flights in near real-time, thanks to a new tool developed by NATS.

The Flight Optimisation System, or ‘FLOSYS’, takes real radar data, updated every three minutes, and combines it with NATS’ 3Di airspace efficiency metric to produce a graphical representation of every flight in UK airspace.

Controllers can then analyse the efficiency of an individual aircraft through every phase of flight and airspace sector, as well as compare it against other flights along the same route up to 12 months ago, including the average and best performing.

By having access to this granularity of data for the first time, controllers and airspace managers will be able to better identify the opportunities for operational improvements that will save airlines fuel and cut carbon emissions.

Since 2012 NATS has measured the efficiency of an aircraft’s route and trajectory using its three dimensional inefficiency (3Di) metric where each flight is compared to a scale where zero represents total environmental efficiency. Most flights typically score somewhere between 15 and 35.

However it is only with the advent of ‘FLOSYS’ that controllers can now immediately see 3Di scores for individual flights and identify specific areas for improvement, or best practice techniques to share.

Ash Bennett, NATS Swanwick airspace efficiency manager, said: “What we want to do is equip our controllers with enough data to be able to understand the story behind every flight and to then make informed decisions on areas of possible improvement. That might be in the form of more direct or efficient routes, or better climb and descent profiles, all of which help save airlines fuel.”

The system has been developed by the NATS innovation centre, SPACE, together with Altran UK and Lockheed Martin, and with input from the operational ATC community at both NATS’ Swanwick and Prestwick centres. The initial roll out is at Swanwick, before moving to Prestwick Centre next year.

The project forms part of NATS’ wider environmental programme, with its interim target to cut air traffic related CO2 by an average of 4% per flight by the end of this year, along the way to achieving a 10% saving by 2020.

Ian Jopson, NATS Head of Environment and Community Affairs, said: “All the indicators point to us achieving our 4% target for the end of this year. That’s a fantastic achievement itself, but it is just a milestone on our way towards meeting our 10% goal.

“That’s why innovations like ‘FLOSYS’ are so important because it puts real data and real influence in the hands of our controllers who are often the best people at identifying fuel saving opportunities.”

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Oslo becomes first bio-jet fuel hub Wed, 19 Nov 2014 10:43:01 +0000 More ››]]> Avinor’s Oslo Airport will become the world’s first hub to receive regular deliveries of bio-fuel.

It’s also the first time that sustainable bio jet fuel will be used in the hydrant system of the airport.

“We are proud to take on the task of bringing greener aviation one important step forward,” says Avinor CEO Dag Falk-Petersen about the agreement signed with Statoil Aviation.

The plan is to start delivering biofuel already in March 2015, and that Statoil Aviation will deliver 2,5 million liters of sustainable bio-fuel to the tank facility at Oslo Airport in the first 12 months. This corresponds to approximately 3,000 flights between Oslo and Bergen with a 50 per cent bio-fuel mix.

While the initial bio-fuel deliveries will probably come from used cooking oil, major players in the Norwegian power and forestry industries are now exploring the possibility of forest-based large-scale production of bio-fuel for aviation in the course of a few short years.

“It’s not out of the question that we in Norway could achieve large-scale production of sustainable aviation bio-fuel at a competitive price in 2020,” says Falk-Petersen.

“I’m proud that Oslo Airport will be the first hub in the world to offer our customers regular deliveries of bio-fuel. Along with our many other measures, this will represent an additional boost to our climate and environmental work,” said Oslo airport managing director Øyvind Hasaas regarding the news, which will be launched globally at a major conference in Dubai on 19 November.

“This is a good start towards developing a market for aviation bio-fuel. The fact that Avinor is contributing to making Oslo Airport the first hub in the world where all airlines have the opportunity to use bio-fuel illustrates that a green change is possible. At the same time, it’s important that the authorities step up with policy instruments that promote greater use of bio-fuel in aviation,” said head of the environmental foundation ZERO, Marius Holm.

”Statoil Aviation has now taken biofuel from tests and promotions to real business. We are proud to offer the airlines biofuels as part of their normal operation at Oslo Airport for the first time. Signing supply contracts with airlines which include biofuels drop-in is a real breakthrough in the aviation industry, and another important step for a better environment. I want to say ‘thank you’ to Avinor, SkyNRG and the participating airlines which have made this possible,” says Vice President at Statoil Aviation, Thorbjörn Larsson.

To date, Statoil Aviation has entered into agreements with Lufthansa Group (Lufthansa, SWISS, Austrian Airlines, Germanwings, Eurowings, Brussels Airlines), SAS and KLM for deliveries of bio-fuel at Oslo Airport.

There are currently two concrete industrial Norwegian initiatives for production of bio-fuel: Statkraft and Södra at Tofte in Hurum, and Viken Skog / Treklyngen at Follum in Hønefoss. Both projects are now looking into the possibility of producing both bio-diesel, which is needed in the heavy transport sector, and the bio-jet fuel needed in aviation. A single bio-fuel plant can produce enough bio-jet fuel and bio-diesel to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from Norwegian aviation by 10-15 per cent, and can yield major emission cuts in road transport.

Bio-fuel production could become a win-win situation for Norway by providing reduced greenhouse gas emissions and increased value creation from forests – an important step towards a sustainable industry in Norway and a shift towards the renewable zero discharge society.

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Airlines urge FAA funding, governance overhaul Tue, 18 Nov 2014 21:07:20 +0000 More ››]]> A US airlines chief is pushing for ‘transformational’ change in the next round of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorisation, including speeding efforts to modernise the Air Traffic Control (ATC) system and implement NextGen to make air travel more efficient.

Nicholas E. Calio, president and CEO of Airlines for America (A4A), the industry trade organisation for the largest US airlines, today testified before the House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee, urging members to follow the lead of T&I Chairman Bill Shuster in calls for radical action.

“While the United States has been the leader in air traffic management and technology, and has the safest ATC system in the world, it needs improvement,” Calio said.

In preparation for the next FAA reauthorisation bill, A4A is in the process of benchmarking and developing a fact-based assessment of the governance, financial and operational performance of the US, Canadian and European ATC models. In written and oral testimony, A4A notes that the FAA organisational structure and funding model hinder the agency’s efforts to modernise the ATC system and implement NextGen.

Calio said airlines had already invested hundreds of millions of dollars to utilise NextGen technologies, such as performance-based navigation procedures and have consistently asked to see greater benefits so that the business case for investment can be made.

He said A4A members support NextGen, and airlines have provided operational data to the FAA, participated in pilot programmes, and served on working groups and federal advisory committees – yet their opportunities to use that investment in the airspace has so far been ‘spotty’.

“We agree with the Department of Transportation Inspector General and Government Accountability Office reports that ATC modernisation and NextGen implementation are not hindered by a lack of funding or technology, but instead by procedure development and approvals, which often cause lengthy delays and result in a lack of uniform support among users,” Calio said.

“Expediting the most cost-beneficial components of NextGen is one of the five pillars of A4A’s National Airline Policy, which we hope the Committee will enact as part of the FAA bill. There have been undeniable difficulties related to US modernisation efforts, which consistently refer back to governance and funding issues that we need to resolve if we are to remain competitive.”

Read More: WSJ: House Panel Considers Privatizing FAA’s Air Traffic Control System

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FAA can ban drones flown recklessly: NTSB Tue, 18 Nov 2014 15:41:00 +0000 More ››]]> The United States National Transportation Safety Board has ruled that the Federal Aviation Administration can enforce safety rules for drones.

In a case from 2011, the NTSB said the FAA can apply rules against “careless or reckless” flights of unmanned aircraft as well as manned aircraft.

The NTSB has sent back the 2011 case to what amounts to a lesser court in an effort to re-examine whether or not the flying of an unmanned aircraft over the campus of the University of Virginia was careless or reckless.

In that case, Raphael Pirker was fined $10,000 for the commercial use of an unmanned aircraft after flying a RiteWing Zephyr II remote-controlled flying wing to record aerial video of a hospital campus for advertising purposes.

Later, an administrative judge with the NTSB threw out that fine, contending that FAA regulations could not be applied to the styrofoam drone. The subsequent FAA appeal to the full NTSB had the effect of staying the decision until its Board ruled on the matter.

In reaching its decision, the Board determined the FAA may indeed apply the regulation that prohibits the operation of any aircraft in a careless or reckless manner to unmanned aircraft.

Meanwhile, industry experts claim it is very likely the FAA will publish their small UAS rules in a few weeks and that they will be highly contentious as well as being unreasonably conservative in many aspects.

“Other than a few specialised one-off large unmanned aerial systems (UAS) no one has expressed any interest in buying, operating or certifying a commercial HALE or MALE UAS (drones that operate at high and medium altitudes),” one expert told Air Traffic Management. “The action is focussed now on what is estimated to be over one million small UAS that are being operated without consideration to any FAA UAS policy. There are no published rules even though new small UAS manufacturers are popping up daily and the number of commercial grade UAS continues to grow.”

“The FAA has virtually no UAS funding. Out of the FAA’s $15 billion a year budget, the FAA spends about $8 million on UAS activities. The much publicised FAA test beds receive no FAA funding and have been barred for charging for key services that were originally expected to offset their costs,” continued the UAS expert.

“Even the latest FAA offering of an academic UAS Centre of Excellence has only been funded for $500,000 per year for five years. This will barely cover organisational and management costs leaving virtually nothing to conduct research.”

Read More
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Bosnia Herzegovina enters European network Tue, 18 Nov 2014 15:26:25 +0000 More ››]]> The new Bosnia Herzegovina air traffic control centre (BH ACC) has commenced European network operations.

It will initially provide air traffic services over parts of Sarajevo Flight Information Region up to FL325, while for the remaining portions of the airspace and for the airspace above FL325, air traffic services will continue to be provided from Belgrade and Zagreb ACCs.

Representatives from the civil aviation authorities of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia and their air navigation service providers (BHANSA, Croatia Control and SMATSA) together with Eurocontrol worked closely together towards the achievement of this goal.  All the parties involved brought their significant individual contributions during the preparatory period to make the transition towards the new ACC as smooth as possible.

“The opening of the new BH ACC is the result of extensive successful work among all involved parties in the region,” said Frank Brenner, director general of Eurocontrol. “Eurocontrol focused on the coordination of all operational aspects ensuring that disruptions to the air traffic management network would be kept to a minimum during the transition phase. The respective member states of Eurocontrol, their Air Navigation Service Providers and the Network Manager have cooperated brilliantly to make this happen.”

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