Airways New Zealand will introduce reduced 30nm (55km) longitudinal and 30nm latitudinal separation in the Auckland oceanic flight information region (FIR) in November, becoming the first air traffic management (ATM) service provider to introduce the new standards.
Current separation is 50nm in longitude and latitude and the reduction will increase airspace capacity across the Tasman. The service provider has been implementing reduced standards for five years through its advanced oceanic control system (OCS), but had to wait for formal International Civil Aviation Organisation approval.
The move is expected to cut bottlenecks on trans-Tasman routes and allow faster handovers to Airservices Australia controllers, says Airways New Zealand.
"By reducing our separation standard, we are effectively increasing our airspace capacity but, more importantly, we are also able to provide increased route flexibility," says Mark Goodall, Airways New Zealand's oceanic unit manager. "It saves the airlines money through better operating efficiency gained by improved access to preferred routes and flight levels."
Reduced separation standards is one of a number of developments made possible with the OCS, which has been operating for five years as the sole-means oceanic ATM system for the Auckland FIR at the Oceanic Control Centre in Auckland. OCS, and its conflict probe capability, is supporting the move from permanently defined tracks to free flight operations.
Earlier this year Airways New Zealand, the US Federal Aviation Administration's Oakland centre and Air New Zealand launched a trial of Dynamic Airborne Re-route Planning (DARP) on the airline's services to Los Angeles, whereby the aircraft crew requested new flightpaths en route. Using the OCS's conflict probe tool, controllers determined whether the re-route was safe and if so, sent route clearances directly to the aircraft.
The trial has now ended and the service provider is writing up the procedures to allow its operational introduction early next year when the new OCS at the FAA's Oakland centre comes online, providing a seamless service between New Zealand and the USA. Airways New Zealand is part of a consortium, with Lockheed Martin and Adacel, that won a contract from the FAA to upgrade its oceanic ATM system. Training of FAA controllers by Airways New Zealand is under way.
EMMA KELLY / PERTH
Source: Flight International