Julian Moxon/PARIS

Eurocontrol has confirmed that Austria will host the Central European Air Traffic Control Centre (Ceats). The decision ends years of controversy over which of several countries would be chosen (Flight International, 16-22 December, 1998) .

The directors general of the countries involved - Austria, Italy, Hungary, Slovenia, Slovakia, Croatia and the Czech Republic - have submitted the decision to the transport ministers of the Ceats countries, with formal endorsement likely at the Eurocontrol provisional council meeting on 23 April. Bosnia-Herzegovina is expected to join the group soon.

The Ceats will be Eurocontrol's second major air traffic control centre after Maastricht, in The Netherlands, which handles upper airspace traffic for northern Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg and controlled more than 1 million flights last year - the first time the million barrier had been crossed.

Some Ceats support facilities have also been approved, including a research, development and simulation centre in Budapest, Hungary, a training centre at Forli- Rimini, Italy, and a Ceats central office in Prague, Czech Republic.

This will be renamed the Ceats strategy planning and development unit, and will be responsible for co-ordinating with Eurocontrol's air traffic control harmonisation initiatives.

Service entry for Ceats remains uncertain and is subject to approval of funding mechanisms for the system. Industry sources have indicated that it needed to be available by 2005/6 to handle the expected strong traffic growth in the region.

Initial funding for Ceats will be through bank loans raised against overflight charges, national contributions and possibly the European Union, through its trans-European network programme.

Source: Flight International