Eurocontrol, Indra overhaul flight plan system

Eurocontrol’s Maastricht Upper Area Control Centre (MUAC) and Indra have  completely overhauled flight data processing systems with virtualised infrastructure.

In 2008, MUAC and Indra deployed an advanced flight data processing system, the first to harness the latest generation of 4D trajectory flight management and medium-term conflict warning.

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It helped MUAC deploy close to 500 direct routes in the airspace that it oversees, which meant a significant reduction in aircraft fuel consumption and CO2 emissions alongside greater operational efficiencies.

On 23 November, Indra and MUAC renewed their partnership with a complete overhaul of the flight data processing system, replacing the obsolete hardware with a state-of-the-art standard.

The new virtualised infrastructure ensures that the flight data processing system can continue to grow and that future maintenance and hardware replacements can be done at a substantially lower cost than previously. This investment is particularly important as it will ensure MUAC’s continued provision of safe ATC services, with appropriate levels of capacity and efficiency in the face of growing traffic.

Thanks to virtualisation, the hardware footprint of the system is now reduced by 60 per cent, leading to significant reductions in maintenance and cooling costs, with subsequent environmental benefits via reduced CO2 emissions.

Operated by Eurocontrol on behalf of four States, MUAC provides control for the upper airspace (above 24,500 feet, i.e. approximately 7,500 metres) of Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and north-west Germany. The international area of responsibility it covers is a perfect example of the simplification and harmonisation of airspace in Europe. MUAC is a model for cross-border projects in the spirit of the Single European Sky. More than 1.6 million flights pass through MUAC’s area of responsibility each year, making it the third busiest air traffic control facility in Europe in terms of traffic volume. During the summer, peak days see more than 5,200 flights.

Indra is working on development of latest generation air traffic systems. Since reaching the milestone in 2008 of deploying the first flight plan management system at Maastricht, the company has driven fresh advances and positioned itself ahead of the leading competitors in the industry.

In 2010 Indra launched the first full air traffic control system with 4D flight control capabilities at the DFS’s Karlsruhe control center in Germany, allowing greater precision when calculating routes and thus ensuring that aircraft are able to choose optimal routes for their destinations. Deployment of the system saw Indra technology control all en-route flights in German skies.

The company is now developing the next generation of air traffic control systems as part of the iTEC programme (interoperability Through European Collaboration). It is the technology partner for this initiative, working in partnership with air navigation service providers in Germany (DFS), Spain (NAIRE), United Kingdom (NATS) and Holland (LVNL).

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