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EGATS Report to IFATCA Regional Meeting

1.     ATS / ATFM ENVIRONMENT

1.1.         Air Traffic Statistics (until Sept. 2013)

Traffic at MUAC compared to last year decreased in the period January-March by 1,5% while from April till September increased by 3,5% probably due to a change in the route charges in the neighbouring countries which made the companies file through our airspace again.

The busiest day ever in MUAC was the 5th of July with 5152 flights and the expectation for the total number of flights for this year will get close to 1.600.000 while the average delay till September was 0,10 minutes.

1.2.         Procedures and Airspace Structure

Following the initial introduction, in 2011, of Free Route Airspace in the areas controlled by Maastricht UAC and Karlsruhe UAC, 298 new direct routes have been implemented on 13 Dec 2012, bringing the amount of direct, flight-plannable routes in the area to a total of 656.

103 of these direct routes starting in Maastricht airspace are now linked with direct routes in the Karlsruhe area, creating a large-scale free routing airspace over Belgium, most of Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. At the same time, Maastricht will be extending the availability of 83 directs to 24 hours, bringing the total number of direct routes now available in our airspace at weekends and on week days to 405.

-           VDFL (variable divition FL) will be implemented on the 12th of December in the Hannover sector group, the DeCo will follow next year while for the Brussel there is no foreseen date yet. This new tool will help to cope even better with the increased traffic demand by spreading the movements more equally between high and low sectors.

 

1.3.         Technical Aspects

Last year in October we moved on with our CPDLC programme and we implemented the so called “protected mode” allowing the companies equipped with either FANS1A or ATN to avoid voice read-backs of our clearances. Unfortunately form the beginning of the year the abort rate has risen from 10% till 30% due to some old pioneers jamming the network, making the system non operational from our point of view. We have therefore reverted to voice read-backs until the problems will be solved.

The new VCS is moving forward and it is palnned to be introduced the following year.

Mode S:Over the last three years, the introduction of Enhanced Mode S (EHS) in the MUAC ATC system has begun to offer controllers better situational awareness, more accurate conflict detection and has freed up additional radio frequency time. Above all, EHS has resulted in a marked reduction in errors and losses of separation. Since June 2012, the EHS parameter Final State Selected Altitude (FSSA) has also been used in Short-Term Conflict Alert (STCA) warnings. This eliminates nuisance STCAs for unknown traffic, and at the same time flags up valid STCA warnings earlier than before. For known traffic, valid conflicts caused by an FSSA which is “worse” than the CFL (Cleared Flight Level) are flagged up immediately. This means that an STCA conflict can now be identified by the pilot selecting the FSSA in the airborne Flight Management System. This is the first time that FSSA has been used for STCA anywhere in the world. It has been calculated that 18% of losses of separation could have been avoided between 2004 and 2009 if the system was in place back then.

Automatic Revision messages (REV) and messages of abrogation (MAC) are a reality with Rhein, Reims and Paris, reducing significantly the assistant’s workload.

The remote sector operated by Dutch Mil is a reality although they are still working with a version of our software that does not allow all inputs yet, the full package will be available for them in the beginning of 2014. In the meantime there is the ongoing project of doing the same with Belga Radar making MUAC a centre where civil and military controllers share the same system for an improved coordination and cooperation.

LARA (Local and sub-regional ASM)On 27 June 2012, MUAC became the initial civil user in a first ever LARA cluster that consists of a number of workstations located in ACC Brussels, ATCC Semmerzake, Belgian military airbases, the Belgian Airspace Management Cell, CRC Glons and MUAC. All the LARA workstations are connected over a network to the central LARA server at MUAC. By moving a cursor along a LARA time-line to see what is booked and what will be available, MUAC supervisors can view the status of military airspace planning, the current and soon-to-be active status of the airspace and the predicted status of the airspace at specific times in the future. They are also able to exchange data with the military counterparts in real-time via LARA.

Operational implementation of LARA is planned for the end of 2013.

1.4.         ATFM Aspects

1.5.         Staffing Aspects

At MUAC we are comfortably staffed right now and because of this management does not foresee any intake of new students for the coming 4 to 5 years; this resulted in a reduction of the staff employed by the training section and possible loss of coaching licence for many ATCO’s. We are presently involved in meetings with the management to see the feasibility of the new situation.

Three ATCO’s volunteered to cross train from the Hannover to DeCo sector to cover up for the unbalance after the opening of the Holstein High sector in 2012. Unfortunately all three negotiated with management their own goodies for doing so, making it look unfair for the other staff. Currently EGATS and Staff committee are working on a paper together with management laying down clear guidelines and procedures for cross-training. The bad communication and organization have put cross-training in a bad light and by introducing clarity with this document we hope to create a more positive attitude towards cross training since we believe it can be beneficial for the center and have a positive push to the career of the individual ATCO, however it needs to be planned properly and communicated very clearly.

Due to the expected traffic reduction, management offered to ATCO's the possibility to arrange their own secondment to another ANSP for the coming 3 years (remaining officially employed by Eurocontrol) in order to reduce the workforce at MUAC and improve our productivity but in the meantime 9 ATCO’s out of 12 have returned from their secondment in Vienna and some are currently under re-training.

A new form of part-time has been offered to ATCO’s to reduce costs, working 30% and getting paid for 40% meaning working approximately 4 days a month, we have been critical about that being afraid that it would be difficult to remain competent by following such a scheme, the competency assessors will keep an eye as well on the evolution of the situation.

We will initiate in the winter period a task force with the trade union and the staff committee to draft a policy for ageing ATCO’s,  there was a brainstorm with management a year ago about it but nothing have been done since.

The new roster implementation which started in 2008 has been completed allowing more flexibility and a reduced number of duties per year (169 net).

1.6.         FAB participation/implementation status of your country (description)

EGATS is involved in the MOSAIC/MARC  group.

In our point of view, FABEC did and will not deliver anything sensible as to what was defined initially for the FAB. However, the result of the stand-still in the FABEC developments pushed the States to, again, put the Statute of MUAC under review.

After a first study on the Institutional Statute of MUAC concluded by "the Leuven Conclusion", one of the only certain objective is to take MUAC out of the EUROCONTROL set-up. To our surprise, a second study was initiated in order to find ways to implement the "Leuven Conclusion". This study is under the lead of a consultant appointed by the DG EUROCONTROL. Eventually, the current developments tend to prove our fears right! Despite all risks and the best performance achieved, the future of MUAC is a pure political game. The establishment of a new entity including all FABEC States, whereas MUAC would be the nucleus of this future FABEC structure, seems already ill fated as some States are not ready to integrate their ACC into another institutional set-up. This would of course leave MUAC alone, away from the EUROCONTROL Agency, in yet another layer of fragmentation (and substantial additional costs!)

Notwithstanding the risks for our conditions of employment.

Additionally, a new organisation including only the Upper airspace centres could create huge disparities of conditions within the area.

The overall hypocrisy surrounding the project will lead us to go on actions against the change of MUAC Statute.

 

2.     SOCIAL ENVIRONMENT

2.1.         Employment

The pressure on the budget will bring changes.

At the moment, the ATCOs are not directly concerned by an on-going reorganisation however the EU Reform will have an impact.

We do not know yet to what extend, including the pensions, as discussions are only starting.

 

2.2.         Privatisation

Not directly, but see change of MUAC Institutional statute information

2.3.         Friction/Improvement in Working Environment

Despite the recognition of EGATS’ role in all professional issues, the new Maastricht Management Team decided to assess at an early stage of any new project when and how EGATS will be involved. In other words, EGATS involvement will be on invitation. Obviously if we would identify an oversight and have not been invited, they will happy to receive that indication for further evaluation.

The new building construction is proceeding well despite the bad weather conditions we suffered in the last spring and it’s estimated to be completed by the end of the year and it will host better resting facilities for the staff and a new canteen.

 

3.     CONLUSIONS

3.1.         Summary of Identified Problems/Improvements

3.2.         Future Aspects

3.3.         Remedial Actions Suggested

 

4.     ANY OTHER COMMENTS

None