Flexible Use of Airspace – a military outlook

The concept

As a basic flexible use of airspace (FUA) principle, airspace should no longer be designated as military or civil but should be considered as a single continuum and used flexibly on a day-to-day basis. All users can have access, and on the basis of actual needs, their requests should be managed to achieve the most efficient use of airspace. Wherever possible, permanent airspace segregation should be avoided.

 

The legal framework

As part of the Single European Sky regulatory framework, Commission Regulation (EC) No 2150/2005 of 23 December 2005 (the FUA Regulation) laid down common rules for the flexible use of airspace. Enhanced cooperation and real-time coordination between civil and military units are to contribute to the economic use of shared airspace resources.

 

Our contribution

We at EUROCONTROL have been mandated, in accordance with Article 8(1) of Regulation (EC) No 549/2004, to assist the European Commission (EC) in the development of implementing rules on flexible use of airspace. This Regulation takes full account of the resulting mandate report which we issued in December 2004.

Within the Agency, the Airspace Network Planning and Navigation Unit, in close coordination with EUROCONTROL’s Civil-Military ATM Coordination Division, collaborated to assist the EC in the development of an FUA Community Specification. Issued in 2009, the EUROCONTROL Specification provides details of procedures and requirements for the implementation and application of the FUA concept.

Since EUROCONTROL’s FUA Specification not only addresses interoperability standards adopted for systems or constituents but also progressively facilitates implementation of operational coordination between civil and military ATM partners, comprehensive cooperation and consultation processes with all relevant national authorities are crucial.

Our ATM experts currently assist stakeholders to achieve a harmonised application of the FUA within the Single European Sky.

 

Advanced flexible use of airspace

The FUA concept has evolved to become the advanced flexible use of airspace (AFUA) concept, which is expected to provide more flexibility on the basis of dynamic airspace management in all flight phases, from initial planning to execution.

AFUA is based on extended civil-military cooperation, more proactive, performance oriented to achieve mission effectiveness and flight efficiency.

AFUA is an airspace management concept, based on a civil – military partnership to enhance an efficient use of airspace. It is aimed at providing a responsive approach in a more complex environment within which traffic growth needs to be accommodated.

AFUA services (AFAUS) should enable a process of online real-time data exchange, allowing pro-activity from all partners with the aim of improving flight efficiency and mission effectiveness.

EUROCONTROL offers system support (see LARA, the EUROCONTROL airspace management/ASM local support system, PRISMIL, CIMACT and the Centralised AFUA services) at all stages of the civil military coordination process in ASM.

 

AFUA services and ASM

AFUA is being moulded to meet performance targets on the basis of best practices, local improvements and ongoing FAB (Functional Airspace Block) initiatives, taking into account the network operational concept and SESAR research and development results.

The AFUA concept consolidates mature innovations and is the basis for improved processes and procedures facilitated by capable systems.

Most improvements will facilitate performance enhancement if adequate operational and technical enablers are available. The AFUAS (CS4) is being developed for the implementation of AFUA at pan-European level.

For the purpose of continuous coordination and production of an optimised European AUP/UUP (Airspace Use Plan and its updates) by the Network Manager, AFUAS will make shareable airspace planning data available to ASM actors, enabling them to take informed decisions. The service will also, as appropriate, ensure the availability of ad-hoc airspace structures and real-time airspace status data during the pre-tactical and tactical phases, allowing the collection, integration and distribution of relevant information in real time.

CS4 will also archive all ASM data received, allowing performance assessments by regulatory bodies or other authorised entities.

 

Patrick Delmouzee

Head of ATM Coordination Unit