The NM User Forum’s success rubs off on the Flight Efficiency Initiative

14 February 2014

The User Forum is an annual air traffic management rendezvous dedicated to the aviation community’s operational people. The launch of the NM Flight Efficiency Initiative and the participation of airports were the highlights of this, the 17th edition.

On 29-30 January 2014, operations managers and their staff debated ATM operational issues and explored joint solutions to pressing issues with their counterparts in the Network Manager Directorate.

Building on the feedback received from former participants, the 17th edition focused on issues of central importance:

  • how the Network can serve airspace users better;
  • flight efficiency;
  • the freedom to fly preferred trajectories;
  • punctuality;
  • improved gate-to-gate operations;
  • predictability.

This year’s User Forum concentrated especially on how to make the most of opportunities for increasing flight efficiency and predictability as well as improving operations from airport to airport.

Airports responded in gratifyingly large numbers to NM’s invitation – which was extended to them for the first time this year – airside operations managers, in particular. Their participation was a positive indication that there is a definite need to mutually enhance our operational partnership with the airports community.

NM holds that airports are a pivotal part of the network and recognises their specific needs. An effort was made to highlight the benefits of A-CDM and information sharing especially for this audience. As it turned out, although this was not done intentionally, Oslo became the 9th airport to implement A-CDM on 29 January, the first day of the Forum.

It is essential for the vitality of our operational partnership that we meet airspace users year after year, collecting their requirements and feedback on operations; we need to keep them informed about new services and tools that will facilitate their daily operations.

This year, in particular, participants – mainly airspace users– raised their concerns about the fragile balance between predictability and the need to maintain a certain level of flexibility in running operations according to their preferences.

Joe Sultana presented the results of 2013 when NM reached its performance targets. He expressed confidence in NM’s capability to go even further, offering the airspace users “a network of options”.

But, he emphasised, we live in a performance targets environment. We can be successful if each of the operational partners understands that they are an integral part of the network, too. Only then we can take advantage of a win-win situation.

“We know the network so we can make the difference to your operations. You need to help us, too, to make sure the network is working,” he pointed out.

When chairing the panel, “The NM response to AOs and airports”, Ralph Riedle, former COO at DFS, went even further about the fundamentals of performance: “We have to live the network idea, the network is one of our most precious assets,” he declared, calling for active participation by all partners.

2014 Network Manager’s flagship

Joe Sultana concluded the User Forum by announcing the official launch of the Flight Efficiency Initiative campaign. Until now, the Initiative has been a trial in which we tried to improve it and receive feedback. From now on, the invitation to participate is open to all airlines.

As a final point to take back home, he called for active participation from all airlines: “My plea to you is to contribute, to participate in this activity because we believe it is beneficial, for your bottom line as well. As of today, it is no longer a trial. We take it very seriously; it is now in your hands. Please work with us on this and next year we’ll be showing the results of this work.”

His call was heard: in the two weeks after the User Forum, more than 20 airlines have joined the Initiative. We warmly congratulate them for their prompt reaction and encourage others to do the same.

Since the beginning of the Initiative in May 2013, the actual savings amounted to 235,773NM flown less. This makes for savings of 4,715T CO2 and 1,415T of fuel equating to €1,178,865.

An increased role for CFSPs

Over the two days, a lot was said about predictability and flight efficiency. In this area, Computer Flight Plan Service Providers (CFSPs) play a key part.

In parallel to the Forum, EUROCONTROL also hosted the first meeting of the CFSP Group, a working group set up by IATA to underpin mutual coordination and consultation between computer flight plan service providers, aircraft operators, air navigation service providers and the Network Manager.

The role of CFSPSG will be essential in ensuring that day-to-day operations reflect what we all want, especially in the field of operational requirements related to:

  • flight planning processes;
  • the identification and impact assessment in terms of operational and environmental benefits and savings;
  • the facilitated implementation of identified improvements to ensure operational flexibility and optimisation;
  • the development of new concepts and a roadmap for the relevant NM and AO systems developments in the coming years, in line with relevant SESAR WPs and their deployment.

Looking back at the programme in detail

The workshop gave the floor to guest speakers from Lufthansa, EasyJet, Monarch, KLM and Fraport (Frankfurt Airport) and Charles de Gaulle for the newcomers; DSNA and DFS for the ANSPs’ viewpoint.

In a nutshell, the programme offered the opportunity to take part in:

  • a debate on the priorities and pace of current network developments;
  • a joint NM/ANSP presentation, featuring a common network response to the needs of airlines and airports;
  • various presentations from airline and airport representatives featuring their requirements and sharing experience with their peers;
  • a talk on what NM is doing to coordinate change in delivering network performance through a common Network Concept of Operations;
  • topics addressing key operational developments such as: Free Route Airspace, the Flight Efficiency initiative, and Cooperative Traffic Management;
  • a debate on how to improve airport/NM operational partnership, and more.

EUROCONTROL is an expert Organisation that can make things happen and the Network Manager can help, at local, FAB and network level. The Network Strategy Plan is our roadmap to delivering performance.

More information

Click on the following links to see the photos and participants’ feedback.

Make a note in your diary

The next User Forum will take place on 28 & 29 January 2015.

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