Major free route airspace programme launched

The Borealis Alliance of nine European Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) has announced the launch of a programme to deliver seamless and integrated free route airspace across the whole of Northern Europe by 2020.

Airlines and business aviation operators will in future be able to plan and take the most cost effective, fuel efficient and timely routes across the entire airspace managed by Borealis members rather than following pre-defined ‘routes’ within each member country’s airspace, saving time, money and fuel. The programme will create free route airspace extending from the eastern boundary of the North Atlantic to the western boundary of Russian airspace in the North of Europe.

Borealis FRA vision banner

The programme will build on work initiated through the three existing Functional Airspace Blocks (FABs) – the Danish-Swedish, UK-Ireland and North European FABs – and the North European Free Route Airspace (NEFRA) programme, but is voluntarily being expanded by the ANSPs to maximise the benefits for customers.

Richard Deakin, CEO of UK ANSP NATS, and the newly-appointed Chair of the Borealis Alliance Board, commented: “The fact that the ANSPs of three different FABs are choosing to collaborate to maximise the benefits of Free Route Airspace in Northern Europe demonstrates our commitment to our customers. Working together in this way to improve the performance of air traffic management in Europe for the benefit of airspace users is exactly what the European Commission’s Single European Sky initiative is all about.”

Branka Subotic, Executive Director of the Borealis Alliance, added: “This is a major programme that will deliver significant benefits to airspace users across the whole of Northern Europe and we will be dedicating a lot of effort to making it a reality. Whilst some of the work was already under way, by expanding this and bringing it together through the Alliance we will really maximise the benefits to airspace users.”

logo_borealis_greenishThe programme will build on the existing areas of free route airspace that already exist in Iceland, Ireland, Denmark and Sweden, with the airspace of Estonia, Finland, Latvia and Norway in 2015 and the particularly complex airspace of the UK in stages, starting from 2017. The interface with the oceanic airspace, beyond 2020, will also be considered as part of the programme.

Following a workshop jointly organised by the Borealis Alliance and the National Supervisory Authorities (NSAs) and hosted by the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority, the regulators of the nine ANSPs have established a working group to explore the best way to improve regulatory cooperation across all nine States for the Borealis Alliance Free Route Airspace programme and its subsequent projects.

While regulatory cooperation already takes place through existing mechanisms including bilateral agreements between States and the existing three Functional Airspace Blocks (FAB), the commitment from the workshop to explore a consistent regulatory approach for a programme of this scale represents a significant step forward in regulatory cooperation.

The Borealis Alliance covers the airspace of nine countries – Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Norway, Sweden and the UK. They provide air traffic services for 3.5m flights a year, across 12.5 million km2 of north European airspace and between them form Europe’s major transatlantic gateway.

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