Spain launches overhaul of ATC infrastructure

Spain has launched its Air Navigation Plan 2017-2020 which outlines how its air navigation service provider ENAIRE will address both air traffic growth and Spain’s commitment to the Single European Sky.
According to current forecasts, Spain’s air traffic will increase by 16 per cent by 2020, reaching an annual 2.2 million flights, 300,000 more flights than 2016.
In response to this growing demand accompanied by European requirements, ENAIRE said it will focus much of its efforts and resources on improving the capacity and efficiency of Spanish airspace in addition to research and development.
ENAIRE is the fourth largest air navigation service provider (ANSP) in Europe in terms of flights managed across 2.2 million sq km of airspace.
“The Single European Sky project makes airspace an increasingly global and more competitive environment,” a Spanish transport ministry official said at a recent presentation. “The main objective of this initiative of the European Commission is to eliminate today’s fragmented airspace and national systems to achieve a truly harmonised European airspace supported by interoperable technology systems.”
To meet this challenge and lead the change, the strategic plan developed by ENAIRE which is called Flight Plan 2020 will feature an investment of €300 million between 2017-2020.
ENAIRE’s investment plans will see €70.1 million spent in 2017, €73.3 million in 2018, €74.8 million in 2019 and €76 million in 2020 and will focus on:

  • development of the Automated Air Traffic Control System (SACTA) offering advanced solutions within the wider European iTEC project;
  • modernisation of voice communication systems between controllers and pilots, incorporating ground-to-air data links and applying new technologies that will respond to the requirements of the Single Sky;
  • evolution of navigation and surveillance systems incorporating new state-of-the-art radars (Mode S) and satellite technologies (EGNOS, ADS-B);
  • deployment of a new high-performance air navigation data network for rapid exchange of information.

The Flight Plan 2020 investment plan also features a reduction in en route charges of 11.5 per cent between 2018 and 2020 (3 per cent in 2018, 4 per cent in 2019 and 5 per cent in 2020). From 2019, ENAIRE expects to charge one of the lowest route rates among the main European suppliers. The rebate will save airlines €184 million.
The cost reductions will be delivered through increased efficiency and will serve to support the competitiveness of airlines, boost tourism and benefit passengers.
“All this investment and the lowering of charges will also be accompanied by the added merit of maintaining the economic viability of ENAIRE, with an expected annual EBITDA of more than €200 million over these four years and an annual growth of the solvency ratio of 4.5 per cent,” Spain’s transport ministry said.
Improved route efficiency as a result of more direct routeing allied to the implementation of green approaches to airports will generate environmental benefits between 2017 to 2020 including 5.5 million nautical miles, 61,000 tons of fuel and 190,000 tons of CO2. The estimated savings of fuel costs for the whole four-year period is expected to exceed €26 million.
ENAIRE will also actively participate in international satellite navigation consortiums and alliances (ESSP) and satellite surveillance (ADS-B), will compete for the pan-European communications service (NewPENS) – the pan-European ground-to-ground network infrastructure used for both voice and data communications between ANSPs.
ENAIRE also plans to participate in the European Air Traffic Information Management Service (EAIMS) – a centralised service to ensure the access to all the required, consolidated, consistent and operationally validated data in a seamless and transparent way and will also seek new opportunities in the IRIS satellite data communications services programme.

ENAIRE presentation