FAP: new indicators for the assessment of air traffic management

In 1996, the EUROCONTROL Experimental Centre (EEC) launched the Future ATM Profile (FAP), the aims of which were to define relevant indicators for the assessment of air traffic management in Europe, to make projections of these indicators for various time horizons and to assess the consequences of strategic choices.

By the turn of the 21st century in Europe, the air transport system had adopted a more commercial and competitive operating mode. The policies of deregulation of airlines and certain institutional changes promoted this phenomenon. Furthermore, performance, efficiency and even the costs of air traffic management are no longer national matters but need to be considered in a supranational context.

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Continental level

The FAP project, therefore, developed an efficient methodology at continental level – it is applicable in the 44 countries of the European Civil Aviation Conference – for the projection of performance indicators.  FAP based itself on the capabilities of the traffic management (ATC* and ATFM**) models of the EEC and on the actual operational data compiled by EUROCONTROL.

According to Soenke Mahlich, Project Manager in the Network Research Unit at the EEC, “some FAP results have contributed to improved planning of traffic management and to the taking of major decisions at European level. In particular, they have enabled EUROCONTROL to add a capacity and performance planning functionality to a programme dedicated to air traffic control, EATCHIP.***”

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A state-of-the-art experimental centre

The FAP modelling and analysis work was all carried out at the EEC, with contributions from other EUROCONTROL services. In particular, it enabled the EEC to successfully prepare for the very first time a methodology which combines macroscopic modelling of traffic flows with microscopic simulations of air traffic control.

The FAP results have become the basis for the performance assessment and capacity improvement unit at EUROCONTROL. Thanks to the capacity projections and the identification of potential problems year after year, numerous European control centres have put in place a capacity management function and local measures. They can now efficiently get to grips with the forecast increase in air traffic at a reasonable cost.

* ATC: air traffic control

** ATFM: air traffic flow management

*** EATCHIP: European Air Traffic Control Harmonisation and Integration Programme