Where are we now?
In the 10 years between 2001 and 2011, the effective capacity of the ATM network has increased by 32% for a traffic growth of 18%, due to improved capacity planning processes, the coordinated efforts of Air Navigation Service Providers and aircraft operators and the implementation of pan-European programmes.
What can we expect?
At European network level, the ATFM delay forecast indicates that the network capacity target could, for the first time, be achieved in 2012, 2013 and 2014, provided that:
- Air traffic evolves as forecast by the Eurocontrol Forecasting unit STATFOR, and
- the capacity plans of the Air Navigation Service Providers as detailed in the Network Operations Plan 2019-2024 are not only implemented, but also deliver the capacity gains foreseen.
Even with the sharp reduction in traffic growth, it may not be possible for some ANSPs to open optimum sector configurations during peak periods, which could lead to AFTM delays higher than expected. This is due to a combination of a shortage of available air traffic control staff and social unrest at a number ACCs throughout European airspace.
Nevertheless, the lower than expected traffic growth offers a real opportunity to close the capacity gap.
To prevent delays once again escalating, the Network Manager has taken steps to ensure that:
- Air Navigation Service Providers, particularly those that contribute significantly to network delay, review and upgrade their local capacity plans, ensuring that they are realistic - and commit to their full implementation;
- Enhanced network procedures are being developed to ensure that the optimum capacity is made available throughout the network, and that airspace users are offered a choice of routeing that will ensure their requirements for flight efficiency and capacity are accommodated to the greatest extent possible.
- Enhanced network procedures are in place to mitigate the effect of both localised and widespread disruption to the network, including major airspace or ATM system reorganisation, major sporting events, severe weather and industrial action, direct and indirect;
- All ATM stakeholders contribute to and strengthen the European ATM network programmes;
- There is full integration, at network level, of capacity planning, civil/military cooperation, airspace design & management, airport operations and ATFCM (Air Traffic Flow and Capacity Management).
ANSPs, aircraft operators, airport operators and the Network Manager will continue to work together to develop and implement meaningful and well-documented local capacity plans and network processes and procedures that will meet European ATM network requirements.