Military Aspects of Contingency

Military Aspects of Contingency


Military aspects of contingency in the EUROCONTROL guidelines focus on the assistance that military units might provide to ANSPs and the impact that civil contingencies might have on military activities, especially in the area of security. The impact of a ‘failing’ military ANS unit is not specifically addressed in the Guidelines.


Military authorities are major participants in air traffic management (ATM) and their role can be even more prominent in the context of contingency. Pursuant to each State's national legislation, military concerns should be considered during the policy development and the stakeholder consultation process. More precisely, the exchange of basic flight (plan) data and possible continuity of service for State Aircraft operations should be considered. ATM has to support national security in respect of the identification of flights entering a State's national territory, and Air Defence organisations have to be provided with all ATM information relevant to their task. ATM also has to support day-to-day military operations through the provision of, and access to, sufficient airspace for military needs. The exchange of information between civil and military ANSPs is therefore, essential for civil-military coordination, and can only be achieved if civil and military systems are interoperable.

In a contingency situation, support to the military air traffic service (ATS) and Air Defence structures (e.g. flight planning) should continue such that support and information for the identification of flights, exchanges of information relevant to the air defence task and for interoperability of systems - air defence and contingency location - will ensure the exchange of information. In some countries air navigation service (ANS) is provided to military aircraft on a permanent basis by a civil ANSP. In these cases, special arrangements should be made to guarantee the continuity of the ANS such that military operations are not compromised during contingency situations.

In the cases where a military unit is co-located with civil ATC operations, it may be possible to develop an agreement to transfer military ATC operations to other units in contingency situations. However, if evacuation of a ‘failing’ civil ATS unit was necessary, then a co-located military unit would also probably have to be evacuated. Invoking these arrangements and freeing the military ATC facilities for essential civil contingency use raises issues such as:

  • The need for Governmental agreement in principle and on any occasion when arrangements need to be activated. Hence, State Military Authorities must be consulted during the setting of the requirements for contingency operations;
  • The need for military ATC to use common workstations which can support civil ATC functions;
  • The need for levels of building, plant and system integrity suitable for civil operations;
  • Limiting the capacity to that which can be safely handled. In principle each of these issues can be resolved and the use of military units to supplement civil contingency capacity can offer benefits in some cases.

At off-site locations, it is likely that only military air traffic control centres (ATCCs) and/or Air Defence sites would be large enough to provide significant civil ATM capacity. The issues involved in their use for civil operations are:

  • The functionality provided by military ATC operations and Air Defence systems may be unsuitable for civil operations. e.g. no flight plan processing or flight data presentation.
  • The workstations and systems often are, and may be likely to remain, significantly different from those used within civil area control centres (ACCs). Their use by civil controllers would necessitate an expensive ongoing training commitment.
  • Military ATS/Air Defence air/ground and ground/ground communications may not be suitable for civil operations.
  • National defence commitment may restrict availability of this resource.
  • States will need to ensure positive replies to these issues in order to use military sites when setting contingency planning requirements with State Authorities.

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