Functional Airspace Block Europe Central (FABEC) helped deliver more efficient flights and reduced emissions during 2020 according to Eurocontrol performance data(1). Horizontal flight efficiency reached 97.06% as FABEC air traffic controllers provided more direct routes for aircraft once airborne and improved on flight plans filed by airspace users. In comparison, filed flight plans achieved 94.03% horizontal flight efficiency.

As a result of more efficient FABEC trajectories, additional kilometres flown were limited to 104 million km, compared with 172 million km filed in airline flight plans. This led to €204 million savings in operational costs for airspace users on account of averting 68 million extra track miles. Additional savings in carbon dioxide emissions came to 1.4 million tonnes, contributing substantially to reducing aviation’s environmental footprint.

FABEC Operations Standing Committee Chair and skeyes COO Peggy Devestel said: “These figures demonstrate that substantial efficiency improvements can only be provided on a tactical basis with the support of our air traffic controllers as flight planning via the Network Manager is by nature only based on an assumption of what the traffic might look like once airborne.”

FABEC Environmental Committee Chair Ilona Sitova said: “The traffic downturn caused by the pandemic provides a unique opportunity to adopt best practise and implement procedures that lead to optimised flight profiles. By providing the most direct routings whenever possible, FABEC controllers are helping Europe to meet its environmental goals.”

FABEC air navigation service providers continue to shorten airspace routes and reduce restrictions. In addition to route revisions introduced in 2020, new sector boundaries offer improved vertical flight profiles under a cooperative programme to optimise the airspace in some of Europe’s busiest airspace, enabling airspace users to access new route options. Engaging with airspace users and ensuring network constraints are kept to a minimum are key steps in ensuring airlines take advantage of more efficient flight trajectories, enhance fuel efficiency and lower emissions.

The airspace of the six FABEC States of Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland is one of the busiest and most complex in the world. The majority of major European airports, major civil airways and military training areas are located in this area. FABEC airspace covers 1.7 million km² and handles over 55% of European air traffic.  The EUROCONTROL ANS performance dashboard provides more details by stakeholder horizontal flight efficiency.