From the CFMU to the Network Manager

The CFMU's heritage

EUROCONTROL Network Operations stem from the Central Flow Management Unit (CFMU), which was created in 1995 as a response to the chronic delays plaguing European air traffic throughout the eighties.

Based on ICAO's concept of centrally coordinated Air Traffic Flow Management (ATFM), and with the support of the ECAC Member States, the CFMU succeeded in containing the delay crisis at the time. As a result, strong operational collaboration processes were put in place between all aviation actors - especially ANSPs and airlines - to manage traffic and delays in partnership.

This organisation is unique in the world in that it centralises flight planning and airspace data and manages air traffic flows across the EUROCONTROL Member States and one cooperating State (Morocco).

Traditional ATFM methods have evolved considerably and now optimise capacity collectively: the ATFM concept became ATFCM (Air Traffic Flow and Capacity Management) in the early 2000s and culminated in the network management concept in 2010. Flight planning and airspace activities have grown into the dynamic management of both airspace and flight demand throughout the network; several other pan European services have also been added to these core activities.

Our mission

The Network Manager Operations Centre has two operations centres at Haren, Brussels and Brétigny-sur-Orge near Paris. Our mission is to deliver core operational services across several domains:

  • Flow and Capacity Management
  • ATM Access Gateway/Flight Planning Operations
  • Information Management Domain:
  • Crisis and Contingency Management
  • Post-operations analysis and reporting.

These services are delivered in accordance with the European Single Sky concept as laid down in the SES Regulations on ATM Network Functions, Performance Scheme, and the ATFM Implementing Rule.

This mission calls for cooperation and efficient processes for Collaborative Decision Making (CDM) with all EUROPEAN operational stakeholders (Airlines, ANSP, Airports and Military authorities).

Sharing a common view of the airspace situation is of paramount importance to all actors involved in flow management. The mission of the Network Manager Operations Centre includes the management of a central database of airspace data. In addition a central service for the aggregation and dissemination of aeronautical (AIS) data is provided by the EAD (European AIS database).
More about aeronautical data management

Flight Planning services are a prerequisite for Flow Management: they consist in the central collection, processing and distribution of flight plans to the ATC Units concerned.
More about flight planning

The purpose of  Flow Management is to balance the demand for flights in the European airspace over the long- and short-term to the availability of air traffic control capacity. It shall also accommodate foreseen ATM events and react timely and efficiently on unforeseen ATM events up to the day of operations.
More about ATFCM

Our challenges

In 2011, the European Commission nominated EUROCONTROL as European Network Manager, as defined in the Single European Sky II (SES) legislation.

The European Commission’s Implementing Rules are now the backbone of our network operations. The ultimate purpose of these new binding rules applicable to all aviation stakeholders is to improve the performance of the European ATM Network.

In the context of the overall Network Strategy Plan (NSP), the Network Manager Operations Centre must make its own direct contribution to the overall network performance. The NMOC is driven by a number of very challenging targets in the key performance areas of capacity and flight efficiency, while continuously meeting rigorous safety and cost-efficiency targets.

Eventually, rules and procedures are of little effect if they are not applied consistently and constantly across the network. This is paramount in running the ATFM and all the network functions effectively, while making the optimum use of the available air traffic control capacity and minimising environmental impact.

This is where collaboration and mutual trust between all operational stakeholders - airlines, ANSPs, airports and military authorities - come into play: these assets were built over time since the early days of the CFMU and shall continue to be nurtured in the future.

How to collaborate with Network Operations