The European Commission (EC) and Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA) visited a Borealis Free Route Airspace implementing partner Finavia at Helsinki Airport in Finland, to see how the EU funding has supported the deployment of Free Route Airspace in Northern Europe.
The deployment financed under the ‘Borealis Free Route Airspace, Part 1’ was selected by INEA and DG MOVE for an official visit amongst five SESAR projects financed under the Call 2014 of the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), a key EU funding instrument to facilitate targeted infrastructure investment at European level.
The delegation was accompanied by representatives of the SESAR Deployment Manager and was hosted by Finavia, an implementing partner of the Borealis Free Route Airspace programme.
It is an ambitious initiative involving nine air navigation service providers – all members of the Borealis Alliance, a commercial partnership set up to facilitate cooperation between the members for the benefits of their customers.
The Alliance’s Free Route Airspace programme has already been highlighted by the EC as a major contributor to the vision of Single European Sky, awarding it one of the inaugural ‘SES’ awards in March 2016.
The visit showcased the Borealis Free Route Airspace in operation, currently connecting airspace across six North European states – Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Norway, and Sweden, where airlines can plan and fly their preferred trajectories across borders.
During the day, the delegates were introduced to this multi-stakeholder project through presentations, discussions and a visit to the Air Traffic Control Centre.
They also heard Finnair’s representative who attended the day and spoke on behalf of the airline customers highlighting the benefits of the Free Route implementation in Northern Europe.
In the Air Traffic Control Centre, guests were guided through the everyday en route operations. This included observing flights through and within the Finnish airspace, airspace management between both civil and military stakeholders and coordination with neighbouring Air Traffic Control Centres.
The delegation saw the concept in operation, the underlying technology and the benefits delivered to the Air Traffic Management network as safer, greener and cheaper air traffic.
Henrik Hololei, Director General, Mobility & Transport at European Commission, said: “The number of stakeholders involved in the Free Route Airspace project Borealis clearly shows that cross-border partnerships are possible, and represent a tremendous opportunity to increase the efficiency of our ATM, taking us one step closer to achieving a Single European Sky (SES).
“Not by chance, Borealis was one of the SES Awards winners this year.”
Dirk Beckers, INEA’s Director, said: “By overcoming fragmentation and delivering cross-border free route operations, the Borealis Free Route Airspace represents an outstanding example of beneficial cooperation and partnership among different stakeholders.
“It perfectly captures both the spirit of the Single European Sky and of the Connecting Europe Facility. This visit has given the opportunity to INEA to have a direct insight into the benefits that this key project is bringing to the ATM network and to all passengers.
“It showcased the progress made in delivering SESAR and reinforced the excellent collaboration between INEA, the SESAR Deployment Manager and the implementing partners.”
“This year Borealis Free Route Airspace programme was amongst the projects recognised by the European Commission with the Single European Sky (SES) award.
“This gave credit to all nine Alliance members working hard in delivering less fragmented, cheaper and greener air traffic to their customers in Northern Europe.
“Today we are happy to show the Commission and INEA the concept in operation. Borealis Alliance is fully committed to the spirits of the SES and will do its best to continue deployment of the free route airspace across a considerable piece of European airspace,” said Branka Subotic, Executive Director of the Borealis Alliance.
“We are happy to welcome the European Commission and INEA and showcase the real benefits that have already been delivered to our customers.
“What we already have today is free route airspace where airlines can plan and fly their preferred trajectories across six North European states, and it is expanding further.
“We are continuing the cooperation with our partners in the Borealis Alliance to multiply those benefits further,” said Raine Luojus, Senior Vice President of Finavia.
Massimo Garbini, Managing Director SESAR Deployment Manager said: “This visit showed that a multi stakeholder involvement as shown here with Borealis Alliance, amplifies the modernisation effect SESAR is aiming for, again a big step forward in ATM modernisation.”
This was the third of the total of four visits in 2016 aimed to recognise concrete results from a timely and successful implementation of Pilot Common Project – six essential Air Traffic Management functionalities co-financed by the EC, to facilitate comprehensive and synchronised deployment.