How we handle your flight

When you travel by air in Europe, EUROCONTROL takes care of your flight, in close collaboration with all its aviation partners located in its Member States

This operational coordination is done by the Network Manager Operations Centre (NMOC, the former CFMU) which has a central view over flights and the overall traffic situation. It interacts constantly with the airlines' operations centres, the air traffic control centres, airports and military authorities.

Your flight needs routes, capacity in the air and at airports and, of course, air traffic control centres, to ensure that it is safe, punctual and cost-efficient for you and for our planet.  This is a real challenge, because air traffic evolves continuously.  Figures speak for themselves: since 1989, air traffic flows increased by 33% and they are expected to nearly double over the next  20 years.

Traffic evolution 1989-2015

Flow management is recognised as a complex task, requiring rigorous processes and extensive collaboration with all partners involved in air traffic management operations.

Since 1995, when the Central Flow Management Unit (CFMU) was created, we have been unique in the world in that we manage air traffic flows across the national boundaries of the EUROCONTROL Member States and cooperating State: Morocco.

Despite a 33% growth in traffic over the last twelve years, additional capacity has been created and Air Traffic Management delays have been limited to an average of 2 minutes per flight, with restrictions in Europe applying to only 12% of flights.

We are proud of EUROCONTROL’s nomination by the European Commission as the Network Manager. This can be seen as a sign of appreciation of our expertise in Air Traffic Management which includes network operations. We are ready to take up this new challenge!  

Balancing air traffic needs and available capacity

In close cooperation with our partners: air navigation service providers - through 75 dedicated Flow Management Positions, the aircraft operator community and the airport and military authorities, we make sure that the flows of air traffic in Europe are as efficient as possible.

In practice, the Network Manager Operations Centre knows air traffic needs by centrally collecting all IFR* flight plans (i.e. intentions to fly) in Europe. We build a pan-European network view in conjunction with the local units responsible for air traffic control and we come up with solutions that optimise the handling of traffic flows according to the available capacity.

This is done both on the day of the flight and by anticipating operations months in advance, by establishing a single operations plan collectively agreed: the Network Operations Plan.

All aviation professionals are informed in real time of the European air traffic situation via the Network Operations Portal (NOP).

We also provide support for events that impact air traffic every day, whether they are planned - such as major sporting events - or unpredictable such as adverse weather conditions. Operations are run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

*flights performed under Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) and which are not military operational flights

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