Free Route Airspace in high-density airspace enters new phase

Following the launch, in March 2011, of 142 new direct routes in the airspace controlled by the EUROCONTROL Maastricht Upper Area Control Centre (MUAC), the Free Route Airspace Maastricht (FRAM) programme has now entered a new phase.
The direct routes are now available to aircraft operators for a longer period, which extends from 00:00 to 08:00 CET. Since March 2011, these new direct routes have been available all night from 00:00 to 06:00 for some 110 flights.
It is estimated that by adding these two additional hours – which cover peak traffic at the beginning of the day – to the core operating time, some 250 aircraft will now be able to benefit from shorter routes.
As from the end of the year, it will also be possible to use the new direct routes at weekends.
The savings expected from the first phase of the deployment during the night and at weekends alone are estimated at 1.16 million km a year, resulting in economies of 3,700 tonnes of kerosene, 12,000 tonnes of CO2 and 37 tonnes of NOX when compared with the fixed route network.
The direct routes will therefore substantially contribute to reducing flight and engine running time, fuel burn, gas emissions and costs in high-density European airspace.
Recent calculations show that in 2009 a flight’s route was on average 47.6 km (or 5.4%) too long compared with its optimum flight trajectory.
The Free Route Airspace Maastricht (FRAM) programme is a key development towards the implementation of shorter routes and more efficient use of the airspace across the continent. It aims to put in place a direct route network for 24/7 operations, saving airlines several million kilometres on flight distance.