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Centralised Services in ATM

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Category: Single European Sky Single European Sky

The Concept

A “centralised service” is an ANS service or ATM function exercised at a pan-European and central network level for harmonisation and cost-efficiency purposes avoiding parallel investments. Centralised service provision involves a clear network dimension.

The concept of centralised services does not exclude the ANSPs, consortia of these, or joint ventures, including the ATM equipment manufacturers, from taking part in this service provision. Any ANSP or manufacturer, or groupings thereof, can bid to provide one or more centralised services. The creation of an European market for a limited number of centralised services will allow ANSPs to provide services beyond the current national boundaries.

Centralised services are not new. EUROCONTROL has longstanding experience with centralised services, such as:

  • billing and collection of air navigation charges by the Central Route Charges Office (CRCO);
  • provision of aeronautical data by the European AIS Database (EAD);
  • demand-capacity balancing by the former Central Flow Management Unit (CFMU) which has become Network Manager according to Regulation (EU) No 677/2011 of 7 July 2011 laying down detailed rules for the implementation of air traffic management (ATM) network functions;
  • flight plan processing and distribution through the Integrated Initial Flight Plan Processing System (IFPS);
  • SSR code allocation to flights through the Centralised SSR Code Assignment and Management System (CCAMS);
  • surveillance data processing and distribution through the ATM Surveillance Tracker and Server (ARTAS).


On Commissioner Siim Kallas’ request EUROCONTROL set up in December 2012 a project team to elaborate the concept of centralised services and identify potential areas where deployment of centralised services will be beneficial in the future. The team came up with the following initial description of the centralised services:

  • An air navigation service or related function;
  • A service exercised at central European/network level, bringing significant benefits in terms of cost-effectiveness and harmonisation;
  • A service entrusted (in terms of management, responsibility and liability) to the Network Manager, while the technical set-up and operation are contracted to industry (ANSP/manufacturing industry) through competitive tenders as far as possible.

Centralised services should also:

  • Contribute significantly to the performance targets of the EU Member States;
  • Support the implementation of SESAR developments on a central basis;
  • Support the implementation of SESAR developments to become pan-European services;
  • Support the unbundling of ancillary services;
  • Allow service providers/the ATM manufacturing industry to team up to provide such services outside national boundaries at a pan-European level;
  • Allow market mechanisms for the centralised services to be implemented following a tender process, i.e. support market competition;
  • Allow performance-based contracts to be concluded between EUROCONTROL and the selected service providers.

Areas for Implementation of Centralised Services

EUROCONTROL project team has analysed about 300 SESAR ideas for potential benefit from implementation at the level of the nine Functional Airspace Blocks (FAB) in Europe or even at pan-European level rather than at national/local level. It has been found that there are up to 90 improvements/enablers that make economically more sense to deploy at FAB level. This would significantly reduce investment costs and thereby contribute to achieve the ATM performance targets.

About ten SESAR projects could be, and indeed should be, implemented at European ATM network level. Typically such projects involve managing data which becomes more important with the evolution of ATM.

Currently, nine (9) Centralised services appropriate for implementation at European ATM network level have been identifed:

  • CS1: Flight Plan and Airport Slot Consistency Service (FAS) - a service to check consistency of flight plans against airport slots on a centralised basis.
  • CS2: 4D Trajectory Flight Profile Calculation for planning purposes Service (4DPP) - a centralised service for calculating and communicating 4D trajectory profiles with increased accuracy.
  • CS3: European Tracker Service (ETKR) - this service will enable the creation of a Europe-wide, consistent, high quality picture of the air situation.
  • CS4: Advanced Flexible Use of Airspace Support Service (AFUAS) - a service for the collection and provision of airspace management data, enabling the more efficient and effective use of available airspace.
  • CS5: European ATM Information Management Service (EAIMS) - a development of the existing EAD service, to include all pre-departure static and dynamic data (eg airport information, weather and digital NOTAMs).
  • CS6: Management of Common Network Resources Service (CNR) - this service improves the management of scarce resources such as transponder codes and radio frequencies by handling them on a unified basis across the area of applicability.
  • CS7: Network Infrastructure Performance monitoring and analysis Service (NIPS) - a service to ensure the safe function and anomaly resolution of common/distributed CNS infrastructure.
  • CS8: Pan European Network Service (PENS) - as data interchange increases, this service would meet all the ground communication needs between sites and partners (based on Internet Protocol).
  • CS9: Data Communication Service (DCS) - data communication service between the air and the ground, to support services such as datalink, AOC services, ADS-C, flight information service, etc.

A series of workshops, held in the period June - September 2103, addressed the Centralised services specifics, development and potential implementation aspects. The workshop materials are available at EUROCONTROL Centralised services dedicated workshops page.

Further information about the 9 Centralised Services is accessible via the EUROCONTROL Centralised services page.

Benefits of Centralised Services

The centralised provision of ATM services will contribute to the overall improvement of the service level towards the ultimate client of the ATM network, the passenger, while generating efficiencies at network level. Other benefits are expected for: European Union, States, including military authorities, ANSPs, airspace users, airports and the ATM manufacturing Industry.

The establishment of centralised services will contribute to the achievement of a truly seamless Single European Sky and the competitiveness of the air transport industry. Centralised services support the SESAR deployment on a pan European level and reduce the chance that some worthwhile SESAR initiatives are not deployed.

It is suggested that the contribution of the centralised services to the Performance Scheme will help states come closer to or even achieve the performance targets that are set, as a mean of reducing cost by using synergy effects. Non-EU member states would benefit also from the centralised services as it is anticipated that centralised services will have pan-European coverage.

The centralisation of some common ANS services can contribute significantly to the ANSPs’ ability to achieve the performance scheme targets. The centralised services will offer the ANSPs the services for less cost than if they were to operate the service individually at local level. ANSPs will have the possibility to participate in tendering and also benefit from the successful marketing of the products and services in other parts of the world, having established a proven track record in Europe.

The airspace users have long been advocating the provision of centralised frontline ATM services, in the interest of cost efficiency, but also of de-fragmentation, harmonisation and interoperability. With the provision of higher quality of data, this will allow (e.g. with 4-D trajectory management for planning purposes) improved predictability which, in turn, should result in greater usable capacity. The airport operators could benefit from centralised services that would, for example, identify consistencies and inconsistencies between the airports slots and the filed flight plans. The report on detected inconsistencies and the subsequent elimination of inconsistencies makes better use of the available limited airport runway capacities.

It is suggested that advances in European ATM technology will serve as a major contribution to the worldwide competitiveness of European ATM manufacturers. European manufacturers can benefit from the development and deployment of centralised infrastructure and services in Europe, but also in marketing these solutions and services to other parts of the world, having a proven positive track record in Europe.

By using the experience gained from EAD EUROCONTROL as the intergovernmental European organisation is ideally placed to help set up future centralised services under the leadership of the Network Manager. The Network Manager acts as independent and impartial body, having a detailed understanding of the network evolution. Its pan-European capability is the critical success factor to support improved efficiency and lower costs of the ATM services while maintaining and where possible improving safety.

Related Articles

Further Reading


European Commission

  • Centralised Services Workshop – address by Matthew Baldwin, Director Air Transport Directorate, European Commission, 4 March 2013
  • The view from Europe - speech by Matthew Baldwin, Director for Air Transport, European Commission, delivered at the CANSO ATM Congres, Madrid, 12‐13 February 2013