Eurocontrol is preparing to implement a short-term strategy of dynamic route management to increase capacity, as it warns of early evidence that delays are creeping back into the European air transport system.

It will begin implementing the first stage of the Dynamic Management of the European Airspace Network (DMEAN) strategy next year, and expects the full operational concept to be in place by 2009.

DMEAN relies on the exchange of information to reduce congestion by matching airspace capacity to demand, and responding to airspace or route availability at short notice – perhaps just three hours before departure.

Bottlenecks caused by aircraft being routed around military airspace, for example, might be eased if commercial traffic could use the military zone when it was clear.

“This needs more co-operation with the military, so that military and civil operations are more complementary,” says Eurocontrol director of air traffic management programmes George Paulson.

He says summer capacity in Europe rose by 45% from 1997-2005 and outstripped the 30% traffic growth. But achieving and maintaining delay targets in the medium term to 2009 will require a 20-25% rise in airspace capacity.

“There are signs of a kick-up in delays,” says Paulson, pointing out that this summer capacity rose by 2.2% but traffic increased by 4.2%. “It’s that warning signal, which we’re now starting to address.”

Without the DMEAN programme, average en-route delays are expected to rise, increasing to 1.6min per flight next year.

DMEAN is expected to provide an extra 20% capacity improvement on top of that already planned for 2007.


Source: Flight International