From the Black Forest to the Black Sea – FAB CE’s free route study receives €1m EU grant

Airlines could fly direct routes across huge swathes of central Europe within three years following the securing of a €1 million grant to study how free route airspace may best be delivered.
The initiative by the FAB CE Functional Airspace Block –  whose members are Austro Control, ANS CR, BHANSA, Croatia Control, Hungarocontrol, LPS SR and Slovenia Control – could vastly improve flight efficiency.
FAB CE’s ‘Free Route Airspace from the Black Forest to the Black Sea’ study was signed in November and was co-financed by the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) with over €1 million of co-financing and will be managed by SESAR Deployment Manager.
The project was selected for funding under the 2014 CEF transport calls which made €13 billion available to finance projects to improve European transport infrastructure, promote transport safety, develop intelligent transport systems and mitigate the environmental impact of the sector. The study contributes to the deployment of Flexible Airspace Management and Free Route, one of the six ATM functionalities identified in the SESAR Pilot Common Project.
The FAB CE partners said the title of the study reflects FAB CE’s determination of creating a concept whose potential does not end at geographical borders; reflects a forward-thinking attitude that benefits not only the Functional Airspace Block, or even one single region, but one where the added-value will be quantifiable on a European scale. The study takes the commitment of the seven FAB CE ANSPs, seven countries with one common goal: the defragmentation of airspace that supports the Single European Sky.
The aim of the technical feasibility study, which was launched in September and will be completed by April 2017, is to develop and validate the Free Route Airspace Concept of Operations (CONOPS) within the Functional Airspace Block Central Europe (FAB CE) with the potential of extending it beyond its borders.
The study will include the development of the CONOPS in which simulations will be performed at HungaroControl’s Centre for Research Development and Simulation as a means to validate the findings which will highlight the necessary adaptations that would be required to connect the individual ATM systems.
By 2019, FAB CE aims to fully implement the FRA concept. For the users this will mean that within dedicated Free Route Airspace they may freely plan routes across the whole FAB area, respectively between defined entry points and defined exit points, with the possibility to route via intermediate waypoints.
There will be no reference to the ATC route network, subject to airspace availability. Within this airspace, flights remain at all times under ATC supervision and to any overriding airspace restrictions. The main objective of FRA implementation is to offer opportunities for the users to improve the efficiency of plannable direct routes, trajectories both within the FAB CE airspace and between neighbouring FABs.