The FAB CE project portfolio: innovating to improve performance

DAM/STAM Study co-financed by the European Union Connecting Europe Facility (CEF)
From April 2017 airlines and other airspace users have benefitted from safer and more on-time performance as a result of the introduction of short term air traffic flow capacity management measures (STAM) throughout FAB CE airspace. In continuation of the activity FAB CE Partners launched a dynamic airspace management (DAM)/STAM) project with the overall objective to improve the FAB level application of FUA and - where possible - progressing FAB CE towards the ‘full compliance’ with the SES Deployment Plan activities. A significant part of the project was the DAM/STAM Study that has been prepared in support of the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) funds describing an operational concept, which aims for the exploitation of limited airspace resources through more efficient and flexible utilisation thereof. As a result of the study and the activities applied thereafter, FAB CE FMP (Flow Management Position) operators can now flexibly introduce traffic-overload prevention measures in response to the actual demand on the system by targeting individual flights with a STAM – through the use of level-capping for aircraft already airborne or introducing “take-off not before” (TONB) actions at airports. Trajectories and procedures are accommodating short-term changes and larger selection of airspace configurations/scenarios allow more robust planning. The implementation of DAM and STAM study findings contribute positively to all Key Performance Areas (KPAs): Larger selection of airspace configurations/scenarios available to allow for more robust planning in operations. Increased airspace capacity through optimised utilisation of airspace configurations and scenarios as STAM gives more opportunities to balance traffic demand and available capacity. It has direct positive impact on the environmental emission thanks to shorter and more direct routes whenever possible. STAM can as well help to avoid overloads and increase situational awareness of FMPs, supervisors and ATCOs.

Operational improvements
The FAB CE’s Airspace Task Force is a working group of all FAB CE air navigation service providers (ANSPs), Network Manager and representatives of ANSPs adjacent to the FAB CE region assessing potential changes to FAB CE (static) sector alignment and Free Route areas. The group was established to ensure the alignment of the European Network developments (in the context of the EAAS) with the FAB CE airspace strategy. The group recently agreed further expansion of Free Route Airspace (FRA) procedures across the important central/south-east European region and re-sectorising of several cross-border airspace areas between individual States ( One of the largest and most complex procedural change has shortened flight times for airspace users in the region through the alignment of SECSI FRA, FRALB and M-FRA airspace areas, involving eight States. The task force has been able to exploit the current traffic conditions to make substantial improvements to airspace design, so that when traffic returns to pre-COVID levels we will have added new levels of capacity to this important area of European airspace. The final goal of this task force is to support the establishment of one large FRA area which includes Baltic FAB CE, Danube FAB and neighbouring states such as Serbia, Montenegro and Albania.

The FAB CE OPS SubC activity also assists to find procedures and technical enablers for managing short- and medium-term (less than ~2 hours) contingency events. In the first phase of the contingency activity, a commonly agreed concept was agreed. In the next phase management of long-term contingency events (beyond ~2 hours duration) will be addressed. This phase will define a common coordination platform for coordinating and monitoring the implementation activities of Phase I.

FAB CE is also active in Operational Excellence activities. A dedicated project group collects best practices and potential quick wins (through changes in operational procedures, rostering, smaller adaptations to systems, etc.) and establishes a repository of potential improvements to be implemented at the FAB CE ANSP’s own discretion. Data is collected from Air Traffic Control, Air Traffic Flow and Capacity Management, Human Resources, Environment, Strategic Planning and System Support domains contributing to multiple Key Performance Areas (KPA) with the goal of improving performance of the FAB CE ANSP’s in these areas while minimising ANSP resource utilisation. Identified candidates for NM OPS Excellence Programme champions are selected and the outcome of the project is planned to be aligned with NM OPS Excellence programme results.

Through a separate project FAB CE is also dealing with the capacity and flow improvements focusing on tasks aimed at identifying specific issues with the aim of improving FAB CE network performance and targets proposing solutions thereto.

The FAB CE state level joined civil-military group has launched a project with the aim to harmonise TRA/TSA utilisation and assess principles in light of the requirements of the European Commission, EUROCONTROL ERNIP guidelines and other relevant documentation. The tasks is to address the potential differences of the national implementations with international requirements – if any, considering future TSA/TRA needs in light of EAAS 2025 /2030 vision and known FAB CE military requirements, as well as the use of supporting tools and processes and make recommendations to the FABCE States and ANSPs concerning potential harmonisation of TSA/TRA utilisation

Technical projects
FAB CE is not only working together on the operational harmonisation of processes but also aims at cooperating on the harmonisation of the technical assets and processes. FAB CE technical harmonisation project examples are the coordinated ADS-B deployment, the Smart procurement of spare parts, the SSR Frequency monitoring project, the Datalink Performance Monitoring and the common CNS infrastructure planning activities. In these completed or still ongoing projects the FAB CE ANSPs are participating based on their internal decisions and needs on a case-by-case basis. As FAB CE consists of 7 member states and ANSPs, the technical tools and processes are diverging. Depending on the level of participation in the technical projects decided by the individual ANSPs, there are “All-in” or “Some-in” cooperation projects.  The longstanding FAB CE cooperation has been proven by several commonly reached success stories by date and still continues.