Europe continues Free Route airspace roll-out

By 2014, at least 16 ACCs of the 64 European ACCs will implement various steps of Free Route Operations. They represent more than 25% of the NM area. Savings from these projects would account to approximately 25000 NMs per day. As a result of these free route projects, flying distances would be reduced by approximately 7.5 million NMs, this representing the equivalent of 45000 tons of fuel saved, or reduced emissions of 150000 tons, or 37 million Euros. Night-time Free Route operations have been operational since May through airspace controlled by Croatia, Serbia, Poland and the Czech Republic.

The free route projects implemented on 2 May offer potential annual savings of approximately 1.3 million nautical miles, representing the equivalent of 8,000 tones of fuel or reduced emissions of 27,000 tones CO2 or €6 million.
The implementation of this free route airspace is the direct result of close coordination between the Air Navigation Services Providers of the ACCs (area control centres) concerned and the Network Manager. The improvements include:

  • cross-border implementation of night free routes within Zagreb ACC and Beograd ACC;
  • implementation of night and weekend directs as part of Free Route Airspace for the Praha ACC;
  • implementation of night directs and permanent directs as part of Free Route Airspace for the Warsaw ACC.

These initiatives and actions for free route airspace are part of the European Route Network Improvement Plan, ERNIP.
The ERNIP Monitoring Report informs Eurocontrol partners about major projects implemented on each AIRAC (Aeronautical Information Regulation and Control) cycle – which further improves airspace design and maximises flight efficiency.
By May, 13 of the 64 European ACCs had already implemented various steps of Free Route Operations. Preparation and validation for H24 Free Route Operations in Hungary and Spain (Madrid ACC Santiago & Asturias sectors), Night Free Route Operations in Italy, Slovenia and Moldova, joint Night Free Route Operations in Bulgaria and Romania as well as further expansion of Free Route Airspace Maastricht and Karlsruhe/ FRAMaK are due to be implemented before summer 2014.
These initiatives will be the starting point on the path to full Free Route Operations across European airspace, making a substantial contribution to airspace performance improvements in the vital areas of capacity, efficiency and environment.