ATM Modernization

Eurocontrol Implements First Phase of Free-Route Airspace

By S.L. Fuller | December 11, 2017

File photo

The first of three phases of implementing free-route airspace at Eurocontrol’s Maastricht Upper Area Control Centre (MUAC) has begun. Eurocontrol said MUAC has started operating user-preferred trajectories in the dense and complex airspace over Belgium, northwest Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands above FL245.

This first phase has free-route airspace available from 12 a.m. to 6 a.m. local time. Gradually, that timeframe is set to increase in MUAC airspace. The second phase, which is planned to begin December 2018, would make free-route airspace available during weekends. The final phase would make it available at all times throughout the week. That is planned to begin in the first half of 2020.

“Free-route airspace is a paradigm shift in that aircraft can plan a route within a specified airspace between defined entry and exit points, including intermediate waypoints, without reference to the fixed air traffic services route network,” Eurocontrol said.

In the future, Eurocontrol said the free-route airspace area could span across borders with the Danish-Swedish Functional Airspace Block.

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