Implementation of Free Route Airspace in Northern Europe

FRA (Free Routing Airspace) implementation is one of SESAR* Deployment Programme projects, which is also one of the most advanced ATM Functionalities within the six SESAR Pilot Common Projects.

In 2013 Ministers of Transport of six North-European states – Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Latvia and Estonia – decided to implement Free Route Airspace in the airspace controlled by

their national ANS Providers, i.e. create NEFRA; it was a cross-border pilot project implemented on the 12th of November 2015, i.e. 7 years before the mandatory deadline established by the respective EC regulation (2022). NEFRA project has attracted special attention at  the EU level owing to its cross-border nature and synchronised implementation of flexible civil-military use of airspace, which supports FRA operations.

NEFRA** project was planned in two stages, where the first phase covered, inter alia, FRA implementation at the functionality level of the systems in use (November 2015) and the second phase will include advanced capabilities for coordinating revised routes and message transmission via Network Manager exchange system (end of 2017).

The flexible use of airspace, which is based upon Collaborative Decision Making (CDM) principle, situational awareness and data collection required for performance measuring, ensures a tool for airspace management and its flexible use (successfully implemented last year) – LARA (Local and sub-Regional Airspace Management Support System) tool.

But, due to technical differences, at the beginning of 2015 the solution implemented on 12 November shrank to the area of responsibility of the ANS Providers of four states (Norway, Latvia, Finland and Estonia), shaping up to the North-European Functional Airspace Block – NEFAB – FRA airspace, but in two separate parts. That solution was the first step of NEFRA stage 1; the implementation of the second step was planned by the 23rd of June 2016 when the Free Route Airspaces of NEFAB and DK/SE FAB (Denmark/Sweden) was to merge. This achievement was significantly facilitated by the simulations and development activities performed during 2015 for updating the procedures, preparing safety cases and aeronautical information package, organising staff training and customer days.

SESAR* – Single European Sky Air Traffic Management Research

NEFRA** – North European Free Route Airspace