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EIWAC 2019 - Study on Volatility in air traffic management

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The FABEC paper documents rising volatility, caused for example by weather phenomena, geopolitics and unexpected economic fluctuations, and sets out metrics to measure and analyse its impact on performance.

FABEC presented a research paper on the topic of Volatility in Air Traffic Management at the 6th ENRI International Workshop on ATM and CNS (EIWAC 2019) held in Japan 29-31 October 2019. More than 600 participants from all over the World attended the forum which meets regularly to support harmonised efforts to improve safety and efficiency of air traffic systems. 

The FABEC paper documents rising volatility, caused for example by weather phenomena, geopolitics and unexpected economic fluctuations, and sets out metrics to measure and analyse its impact on performance. Volatility is a relatively new field of research in ATM where understanding how it influences delay and other performance indicators is part of a wider effort to deliver efficient demand-capacity balancing. While the work is based on European data and procedures, the results are applicable to other airspaces. The FABEC paper finds that over long time periods, growth rates are a better basis to measure traffic volatility, however in the short-term actual traffic figures are more useful in assessing the effect of unpredictable events at sector level. The report concludes the research could also be extended to cost-effectiveness and says unforeseen traffic fluctuations could be factored into policy decision making.

EIWAC is the latest in a series of international events where FABEC has shared analysis concerning industry issues. FABEC gave presentations at each of previous two Air Traffic Control Association (ATCA) annual meetings in Washington, United States, and delivered a paper about airspace capacity planning at the International Council of Aeronautical Sciences (icas) in September 2018. FABEC received the ATCA Strategy Award for team work and co-operation in October 2018.

The FABEC paper: Volatility in Air Traffic Management: How Changes in Traffic Patterns Affect Efficiency in Service Provision is the result of collaborative research by FABEC, Metroeconomia Bilbao and DLR Braunschweig Metroeconomia Bilbao and TU Dresden.

The airspace of the six FABEC States of Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland is one of the busiest and most complex in the world. The majority of major European airports, major civil airways and military training areas are located in this area. FABEC airspace covers 1.7 million km² and handles about 5.8 million flights per year – 55% of European air traffic. FABEC received the ATCA Strategy Award for team work and co-operation in October 2018

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