Several airlines and European air navigation service providers are to test a new service intended to offer airlines exceptional route changes and tactical adjustments, to provide a more efficient trajectory particularly for flights affected by critical operational issues.

Pan-European air navigation organisation Eurocontrol says the trial, beginning 15 September, will last for two months and cover the airspaces of France, Germany, the UK and Ireland, Switzerland, and the Benelux sates.

The service – known as the ‘Customer Initiative’ – is “unique”, claims Eurocontrol, and aims to relieve pressure on airline operation control centres.

It will focus on flights involved in “priority situations” such as those in which carriers face crew duty limitations, high-impact delays, curfews, and serious schedule disruptions which might lead to a “network shockwave”, adds the association.

Air navigation services will offer trajectory strategies including higher cruising altitudes, co-ordinated tactical directs, or non-standard routes to assist airlines that are encountering operational problems.

overflight-c-Unsplash Mark Timberlake

Source: Unsplash/Mark Timberlake

Several European air navigation services are participating in the two-month trial

“The focus is on achieving high-value results, in particular by proposing the best possible flight planning options – which might not be detected by flight planning software – and by guaranteeing on-time arrival,” says Eurocontrol.

Participating carriers will access an air traffic management portal through the Maastricht upper airspace centre, and will be able to upgrade a flight’s status to ‘priority’.

Customer Initiative aims to respond “dynamically” to airlines’ requirements by focusing on the “most penalised flights”, says Eurocontrol, and offering solutions which “transcend regular constraints”.

“Developed during periods of low traffic due to the pandemic, this initiative is expected to generate tangible gains in terms of fuel consumption, lower emissions, savings in route charges and shorter flying times as soon as heavy traffic resumes,” it adds. Eurocontrol expects to receive results from the trial before the end of this year.