CFMU Operations Room in Brussels (photo: Eurocontrol)
Tue 9 Feb 2010 – French-based Egis Avia has been awarded a contract by Eurocontrol to study the integration of a greenhouse gas emissions assessment feature for the optimization of Air Traffic Flow and Capacity Management (ATFCM) network operations provided by Eurocontrol’s Central Flow Management Unit (CFMU). The CFMU acts as an interface between the airspace users – who file the flight plans – the airports and the air navigation service providers (ANSPs) that provide Air Traffic Control (ATC) and other related services. The objective of the study is to raise the CFMU’s role in allowing all stakeholders to understand the impact of their decisions on the environment, particularly emissions.
Egis Avia says regulation and flight planning activities do not currently take into account their environmental impacts at CFMU level. The objectives of this study, to be carried out with ENVISA, are to:
· investigate the possible synergies with emission model modules already developed by Eurocontrol and their potential inclusion in air traffic flow organization;
· develop an operational concept of the integration of the emissions dimension within ATCFM network operations; and
· draw up a business case and cost/benefit analysis of the project.
Any aircraft using Air Traffic Control has to file a flight plan and send it to the CFMU for analysis and processing. Sophisticated computers used by the CFMU calculate exactly where an aircraft will be at any given moment and check that the controllers for that airspace can safely cope with the flight. If they cannot, the CFMU proposes solutions such as re-routing, and if this is not possible, the aircraft has to wait on the ground until a slot becomes available.
The objective of ATFCM is to contribute to a safe, orderly and expeditious flow of traffic by ensuringthat ATC capacity is used to the maximum while ensuring that thetraffic volume never exceeds the capacity declared by the responsibleATC authority.
In 1989, 25% of all European flights suffered delays of 15 minutes or more because of ATC problems. By 2007, thanks to the CFMU, the percentage had fallen to 5%. According to Eurocontrol, through the reduction of delays, the CFMU saves airspace users around 2.5 million minutes every year. If there were no CFMU, it has been estimated that delays would be three times more than they are today and would cost airspace users over €1.5 billion ($2bn).
The CFMU already saves roughly 300,000 tonnes of fuel and almost 1.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions every year through keeping aircraft on the ground with their engines switched off until they have a slot. With the future introduction of the Single European Sky, the CFMU is expected to play a key role in monitoring air traffic flows, advising on the use of more efficient routes and, possibly, alerting States if flight plans deviate from environmental objectives.
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