LPS SR, the air navigation service provider of Slovakia, has opened its airspace for free route operations.
The December 6 launch sees the ATC provider join the SEEN FRA (South East Europe Night Free Route Airspace) initiative developed by three ATC providers of Bulgaria (BULATSA), Hungary (HUNGAROCONTROL) and Romania (ROMATSA).
SEEN FRA allows airlines to file their flight plans without being required to follow prescribed ATS routes from midnight until 06:00 am local time.
The new flight planning rules significantly optimise flight trajectories not only in terms of distance flown but also in terms of most effective routings taking bad weather in to consideration.
According to SEEN simulations, the combined efficiency impact of improvements due to SEEN could potentially save a daily average 3,200 nm flown equating to 15 tonnes of fuel savings.
LPS said the positive evolution of the changes in central and south-eastern Europe airspace will continue during the next year.
From April 2019, round-the-clock FRA will be implemented within Slovakian airspace and during summer 2019, LPS SR will explore extending SEEN FRA availability too.
From November 2019, the three countries which launched the SEEN FRA initiative (Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania) will extend the availability of cross-border FRA operations over the entire day by implementing the SEE FRA project (South East Europe Free Route Airspace).
SEEN FRA/SEE FRA and national FRA projects are being developed in accordance with the Commission Implementing Regulations which direct the individual providers to cooperate towards introducing the Free Route Airspace above FL300 (9.000m) throughout Europe by the end of 2021.
“The main enabler and driver of the airspace changes at European level is EUROCONTROL, particularly the Network Manager. Thanks to the involvement and goodwill of all stakeholders, namely EUROCONTROL member states and EUROCONTROL, airlines will be able to fly on optimised profiles, using less fuel, hence reducing aviation´s environmental footprint,” said Ján Marko, head of LPS SR.