Estonian Air Navigation Services (EANS) and Air Navigation Services Finland (ANS Finland), the main air navigation service providers in Estonia and Finland have a long record of excellent cooperation in the field of Air Traffic Management because of their adjacent areas of responsibility and especially the need to coordinately manage the traffic flows to/from biggest airports under their responsibility – Helsinki-Vantaa and Tallinn. After implementation of cross-border Free-Route airspace in our region the opportunity and demand for further cross-border cooperation was there. In 2016 both companies shared interest to initiate more enhanced cross-border cooperation and the FINEST programme was initiated.
The finest way is to shape the future airspace via dynamic cross-border collaboration that enhances the efficiency, raises the capacity and makes the companies more competitive in the market.
The objective is to be achieved by:
- organizing cross-border, homogenous, dynamic, cost-efficient, more environmentally friendly and competitive Air Navigation Services by EANS and ANS Finland for the benefit of airspace users;
- designing the airspace to support most efficiently today’s and future traffic flows;
- developing and implementing technical environment (e.g. one FDP in the ATM system) supporting the dynamic cross-border services;
- establishing the common rostering for EANS and ANS Finland ACC personnel;
- ensuring continuous contingency in service provision;
- harmonizing and enhancing working methods and procedures within Tallinn FIR and Finland FIR in order to ensure further development of ATC capacity in accordance with EU/SES requirements.
The FINEST cross-border service area consists of Helsinki and Tallinn FIRs (EFIN and EETT) between FL095 until FL660.
To support best the traffic flow airspace will be re-organized and a new set of air blocks will be established. Sectors will be compiled from the specific air blocks to support the existing traffic flow. Within this area the ATC sectors are designed according to the traffic flows instead of national borders. The provision of ATC service within these sectors is dynamically transferrable between Tallinn and Helsinki ACCs.
Picture 1. Futuristic example of the air blocks and their compilation for managing the traffic demand in morning, afternoon and evening traffic.
Despite the economical situation, FINEST program is very important and will be continued as both companies see benefits to our customers after implementation. The aim is to implement the programme with the technical solutions, interfaces and operational harmonization by April 2022. As both companies have been using Thales TopSky system as operational air traffic system for more than a decade, the upgrade to unified solution is the cornerstone for this dynamic service provision. As we aim for the efficiency in all areas of the cooperation, the environmental aspect has been taken seriously into account.
By the end of 2020, the airspace has been defined, work with the operational harmonization is ongoing and technical solutions to support the cross-border operation have been selected and the implementation is ongoing.
Together with respective NSAs (Traficom and Lennuamet) several topics are being discussed:
- licensing, rating and training (also the aspect of system-based rating);
- liability, insurance and other legislative issues;
- safety related information sharing and flow (occurrence reporting, investigations, safety assessments etc;
- change management including functional changes notification processes.
The FINEST objectives and roadmap are and will be built in the context of the EU requirements, the legislative framework of the Single European Sky and SESAR Deployment Program (DP). The objectives of the program are in line with the “Future Airspace Architecture Study” published by the SESAR JU together with Network Manager in April 2019. The industry as well as Network Manager’s support are essential in order to comply with the implementation plans