Free route airspace (FRA) is a specified volume of airspace in which users can freely plan a route between defined entry and exit points. Subject to airspace availability, routing is possible via intermediate waypoints, without reference to the air traffic service (ATS) route network. This new operational concept is a way of overcoming the aviation sector’s efficiency, capacity and environmental problems by helping reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, while improving flight efficiency. At the same time, it paves the way for further enhanced airspace design and ATM operational concepts. Following this major European project, Albcontrol has implemented FRA inside Albanian Airspace since May 2017 (during night hours) and from December 2017 FRA was implemented 24/7. This major change in operational concept has been result of significant improvements in Albcontrol operational systems.

Despite difficulties created by COVID-19 pandemic situation, Albcontrol have continued to work for further improvements of our services and we are proud to announce that Albcontrol (Albania) and M-NAV (Republic of North Macedonia) will join the Southeast Europe Common Sky Initiative (SECSI) Free Route Airspace (FRA) (SECSI FRA) programme from December 2, 2021.

SECSI FRA has been developed with the support of the Network Manager and with the new programme members it will constitute one of the largest cross-border Free Route Airspaces in Europe. It is a major step towards achieving a common Free Route Airspace area through the continent. Albcontrol and M-NAV will join the air navigation service providers Slovenia Control (Slovenia), Austrocontrol (Austria), Croatia Control (Croatia), SMATSA (Serbia/Montenegro) and BHANSA (Bosnia and Herzegovina) in the programme.

The benefits gained through the enlarged SECSI Free Route Airspace area will be substantial. Airspace users will be able to fly more direct routes with potential savings per day of up to 1,940 nautical miles in flight distance, 285 minutes in flight time, fuel consumption reductions of up 8,000 kg and a reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of 25,500kg. The new SECSI FRA will deliver potential savings of around 700,000 NM (1,300,000 km) in flight distances per year and make more options available when determining user-preferred trajectories. Full cross-border FRA allows airlines to exploit dynamic wind conditions and adapt to network disruptions. It will introduce more predictability via improved flight planning and reduce workload for pilots and air traffic controllers.

This initiative is an integral part of the European Commission’s vision for a European Free Route Airspace area, while meeting airspace user requests for multiple route options for city-pairs.

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