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FABEC members regularly implement seasonal procedures aimed at improving flight efficiency. In 2018, FABEC area control centres coordinated seasonal improvements concerning 117 different flows, which saved 4.3 million kg of fuel and 13.4 million kg of CO2. Neighbouring air traffic control centres worked together to offer improved flight profiles during less busy periods, agreed in advance with the airlines. A high number of city pairs gained from these flexible agreements with centres in Belgium, France, Germany, and Switzerland all participating in developing flexible procedures.
Airspace users have also benefited from the introduction of free route airspace by FABEC members in the past two years. From December 2018, user-preferred trajectories became available at night and weekends over Belgium, north-west Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands as part of a phased programme by MUAC. MUAC plans to implement full free route airspace early December 2019.
Meanwhile Germany’s Karlsruhe, Bremen and Munich centres began night time free route airspace, and around the clock in the less complex north eastern region, in March 2018. The first cross-border free route airspace came into operation in early 2019 when MUAC and control centres in northern Germany supported user-preferred trajectories irrespective of national boundaries with Danish-Swedish airspace.
The new procedures improve flight efficiency and demand predictability. Airspace users can fly more optimum profiles, using less fuel, hence reducing aviation’s environmental footprint. Eurocontrol estimates implementation of pan-European free route airspace will reduce flight distances by 7.5 million nm annually, and help to meet the demands of future airspace users such as civil and military unmanned aerial systems, airships, and spaceplane operations.