Spain begins airspace restructuring programme

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Spain has begun a two-year programme to restructure its national airspace as part of the Single European Sky project to improve air traffic efficiency and increase capacity.

The country's air navigation service provider Aena yesterday launched a "deep" restructuring of flight information regions (FIR), terminal areas (TMAs) and other sectors, which is to be completed in 2013. This is partly a result of the recently-unveiled privatisation plans by the Spanish Government for air traffic control at 13 of the country's airports.

A number of these airports handle approach and departure control locally from their towers. However, Aena will only hand over local control for the airport traffic zones while retaining responsibility for the wider approach/departure control. As a result, these services will need to be moved from those airport towers to the regional control centres.

Spain has five main regional control centres in Madrid, Barcelona, Seville and the Canary and Balearic islands, as well as two centres in Valencia and Santiago, which also control TMAs.

The government wants to privatise ATC at the following airports in 2011: Alicante, Valencia, Ibiza, La Palma, Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, Seville, Jerez, Sabadell, Cuatro Vientos, Vigo, La Coruña and Melilla.

Restructuring the airspace covered by the Madrid control centre, including the capital's TMA, will be the first phase. This is to be completed by early 2012. The second phase will be to redesign the regional control centres of Barcelona, Seville and the Canary Islands by early 2013.

The US engineering institute MITRE, a partner of the FAA, has been employed for advise on the programme.

Aena has appointed its air navigation operations director Andrés Torrecilla to head the airspace restructuring project. His former position will be taken over by Gabriel Novelles, until now director of the north central air navigation region.