From research to reality: it's happening here EUROCONTROL’s Experimental Centre turns 50

Celebratory event

Frank Brenner, Director General of EUROCONTROL

Frank Brenner, Director General of EUROCONTROL

My Lord Mayors, Directors General, CEO and Directors, distinguished guests, colleagues and friends of EUROCONTROL’s Brétigny facility: a warm welcome to EUROCONTROL’s Experimental Centre on this special occasion. Today, you help us celebrate fifty years of...

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Maurice Georges, Director DSNA, France

Maurice Georges, Director DSNA, France

D’abord je voudrais dire combien je suis heureux d’être avec vous, et de représenter le directeur général de l’aviation civile Patrick Gandil qui regrette de ne pouvoir être là. Ce n’est sûrement pas par hasard que le Centre Expérimental d’EUROCONTROL est...

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Florian Guillermet, Executive Director, SJU

Florian Guillermet, Executive Director, SJU

Dear Frank, many thanks for your invitation, it is a true pleasure and an honour to be here today. 1967 was a milestone year in European aviation with the signature of the memorandum leading to the launch of the A300 project and the subsequent creation of...

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Pierre Andribet

Pierre Andribet

Head of the EUROCONTROL Experimental Centre (EEC)

Fifty years of innovation for European Air Traffic Management by Pierre Andribet

You don’t turn 50 every day! To celebrate this half-century of innovation, it is my privilege to provide you with a brief insight into the projects which have marked the history of the EUROCONTROL Experimental Centre. Projects which show, on the one hand, the broad spectrum and diversity of our work and, most importantly, how the EEC has helped to address the challenges faced by air traffic management in Europe.

Challenges which started to appear in the 1960s, with the advent of the first jet aircraft. These aircraft flew at an altitude of over 8,000 m, which brought them into airspace previously restricted to the military. Modern air traffic control standards needed to be invented, and new tools and new harmonised procedures were required in order to optimise European airspace and make it safe. Against this background, our Centre was born, in 1967, four years after the creation of EUROCONTROL.

For 25 years, we built up a great deal of expertise in simulation and in the development of procedures designed to improve air traffic management. However, at the end of the 1980s, European airspace started to reach the limits of its capacity; delays became unacceptable with passengers blocked in many airports for hours.

It was essential that all the players in the aviation sector work together if the problems were to be resolved. We therefore needed to change our focus and in the early 1990s switched over to large-scale collaborative research. This meant forming partnerships, learning how to work together, and sharing our objectives on the basis of programmes designed to revolutionise and modernise air traffic management. The results were pivotal.

Over time, we were able to combine simulation, research, innovation and support for the deployment of applications by decompartmentalising them, a recipe which allowed us not only to think about Air Traffic Control in the long-term but also to develop short-term solutions to deal with the continuous increase in growth of traffic.

Thus, we form the backbone of SESAR*, a programme aiming at constructing a harmonised European air traffic control system for 2020-2025. But we cannot – and we will not – stop there! We will need to prepare ourselves for new challenges, such as the use of off-the-shelf technologies invented by other domains.

As in the 1990s, we are approaching a new era, and European R&D will need to be coordinated more than ever before. We want to be the European research centre which takes up that challenge, the one which invents the air traffic control system of the future for Europe.

* Single European Sky ATM Research

Simulations completed Model-based and Real-Time

Real-Time Simulation Controller Positions

ATC systems simulated

Users of BADA

Aircraft modelled in BADA

ATCO participating in RTS since year 2000

Our history – our story


  • Launch of SESAR 2020


  • Wake Vortex re-categorisation
  • Precision Based Navigation (PBN)


  • Launch of the SESAR Joint Undertaking


  • Launch of SESAR Definition Phase


  • Launch of Airport Research area



  • Renovation of the EEC building


  • Safety: loss of separation analysis


  • Human Factor Studies


  • Real-Time Simulator with ESCAPE System


  • Inauguration of the Extension

From Early 1990s

  • Collaborative and Innovative Reasearch


  • Ergonomic Cockpit developed at the EEC


  • Airspace Model



  • Implementation of GOULD Computer


  • Radar Evaluation


  • SHANDAP 2 ATC System


  • Building of the new South wing


  • Data recording during flight with SST Concorde

Before 1970

  • First Controller Room


  • TR4 Telefunken, First Simulator calculator


  • Inauguration of the EEC


  • Creation of the EUROCONTROL Experimental Centre

Before 1962

  • Mr. René BULIN, first Director General of EUROCONTROL
  • Mr. Donald LIPMAN, first Director of EEC


  • Creation of the EUROCONTROL Association
  • Creation of the Bureau d’Études EUROCONTROL