The new Austro Control ATC System, which went operational on February 28, has reached full capacity levels in record time.
Capacity has been gradually increased after passing certain milestones keeping delays for airspace users as low as possible. For the first 6 months of 2013 during which the intensive training phase, the actual switch over to the new system and the familiarization phase took place, delays stayed well in line with the European average.
As of June 19, the system is now operating at full capacity levels. Reaching that level in such a short period of time represents a major achievement for Austro Control. Just in time for the heavy summer traffic load, airlines will now benefit from a more efficient flow of air traffic. The new system is expected to boost capacity by 2030%. At present Austro Control handles about 1.1 million flight movements per year in Austrian airspace.
The technical and operational highlights of the new system include:
- Stripless environment: Paper flight progress strips are a thing of the past, as all the data are shown on the air traffic controllers screens. Instructions are recorded directly when they are input to the system.
- Medium-term conflict detection (MTCD): The air traffic controllers receive automated early warnings of potential conflicts with other flights, enabling them to plan flight paths more efficiently. This facilitates coordination, which was previously performed manually, using flight progress strips.
- System coordination (SYSCO): Communication between air traffic controllers in charge of neighbouring sectors is automated. Information is directly transferred by the system, reducing the amount of inter-sector coordination required.
The new system is a joint development by five ANSPs, based on Thales Air Systems TopSky technology. The ANSPs of Austria, Croatia, Denmark, Ireland and Sweden joined forces with the manufacturer in the partnership COOPANS (Cooperation between ANS Providers) expecting to achieve a major reduction in development costs. The first COOPANS systems of this sort entered service in Ireland (Shannon and Dublin) in 2011. Sweden (Malmö) and Denmark (Copenhagen) were next, in 2012, and Stockholm has followed suit this year.
The key benefits of the COOPANS line-up are the fact that the cost of system developments and future upgrades is spread across the partners, and that a modular approach is far less risky than go-it-alone commissioning of all-new systems. The partnership has brought Austro Control savings of around 30% as compared to a stand-alone development.
Deployment of a standardised air traffic control system at seven control centres in five different countries is a first for Europe. COOPANS represents a major contribution in connection with the implementation of Single European Sky, since the COOPANS system also serves as one of the platforms for the evaluation of new technical developments in the context of SESAR. Altogether, 70% of the worlds air traffic is now managed using TopSky solutions from Thales.