The implementation of 24-hour free route airspace by EUROCONTROL’s Maastricht Upper Area Control Center (MUAC) and DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung’s Karlsruhe Upper Area Control Center (KUAC), two of the main providers of air navigation services in Europe, has unlocked thousands of new route options, regardless of existing airspace boundaries.
This will lead to a significant optimization of air routes , fuel savings and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions .
24/7 free route airspace in the areas of competence of the MUAC and KUAC. The arrows indicate that cross-border free route airspace operations can be conducted between the MUAC and the three free route airspace zones defined for KUAC-controlled airspace.
The new direct route options will further increase flight efficiency for most flights flying over Germany and the Benelux countries .
Airspace users will be able to explore further flight planning options, including long direct cross-border routes connecting the UK with Poland, for example, in a single leg without having to plan along intermediate points within the space MUAC/KUAC aircraft.
It will also be possible to use direct cross-border routes of different lengths to optimize flight paths based on wind patterns and to circumnavigate closed or congested airspace.
The goal of free route airspace is to allow airspace users to plan their routes more closely to their desired flight profiles than ATS routes and published direct routes. This results in greater cost efficiency and reduces aviation’s impact on the environment by decreasing fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, it allows you to maintain or improve the highest levels of safety and capacity.
“The cross-border interconnections of free-route airspace over Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Germany are another important step in a series of activities for a complete free-route airspace in the heart of Europe and for more environmentally friendly aircraft. With the new route options, airlines have the opportunity to create flexible yet reliable planning procedures.” Said Dirk Mahns, DFS Chief Operating Officer.
“Free-route cross-border airspace between the areas for which DFS and MUAC are responsible is another key tenet of our shared vision of excellence in air traffic management. This operational milestone is an essential component for smooth air traffic management in the Benelux countries and Germany, a part of the continent that hosts around 35% of European traffic and is also home to some of Europe’s largest airports.” . Giovanni Santurbano Director of EUROCONTROL MUAC.
H24 free route airspace has been operational in MUAC airspace since 2019 and has been gradually implemented throughout KUAC airspace between 2018 and 2021. Cross-border airspace operations with routes have already been implemented between 2019 and 2022 free to/from the regions of Copenhagen, Sweden, Switzerland and Vienna.
With this development, 24-hour cross-border airspace operations are now possible within and between the Benelux countries, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Switzerland and, during the night, also with Austria.