Maastricht Upper Area Control Centre’s shared ATS system now operational at Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) air bases

Nieuw Milligen, the Netherlands, 04-10-2013 — /EuropaWire/ — The air traffic control system of the Maastricht Upper Area Control Centre (MUAC) is now fully operational at the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) Air Operations Control Centre at Nieuw Milligen, and at seven air bases.

The Shared ATS System (SAS) project is a pioneering project of shared ATM data servicesprovided by one air navigation service provider for the benefit of another in the core area of Europe. It paves the way for further harmonisation in air traffic management and helps alleviate the de-fragmentation of the European network, as required by the Single European Sky.

“Seven Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) air bases and all RNLAF sectors – en-route, approach and tower – now use the SAS System, also used by MUAC for civil air traffic in the upper airspace of the Benelux States and the north-west of Germany and by the DFS unit located at MUAC for military traffic in the north-west of Germany”, says Director MUAC, Jac Jansen. All operational units are now operating with the same flight data processing systemand use the same controller working positions.

“For the first time, military controllers in one location can use the data (e.g. correlated aircraft tracks and flight plans) generated by a system at another location to control some of the densest and most complex airspace in the world”, says Colonel Henk Ras from the RNLAF. This entails processing information for approach and tower control alongside upper airspace operations.

The primary benefit of a shared traffic view is increased safety, due to a closer understanding between military and civil controllers.

Economies of scale are also secured on account of common development and maintenance resources. As MUAC facilities are upgraded and/or developed to SESAR standards, the improvements will automatically flow to the RNLAF virtual military centre served from MUAC.

Furthermore, where in the past verbal coordination procedures were used for synchronisation purposes, this process has now been automated, bringing with it a significant reduction in workload for both supervisors and controllers at both sites. Using a common system provides important efficiency gains as civil controllers are aware of the status of the military areas and the intentions of the military aircraft operating in these areas, enabling more effective capacity management.

Since it first developed the MUAC flight data processing system back in 2008, Indra Sistemas S.A has contributed intensively to the adaptation of the MUAC flight data processing system to support the new civil/military requirements, in particular for the handling of flight planning in the lower airspace involving en-route, approach and tower control.

For further information, contact: 
Mireille Roman, tel.: +31 43 366 1352

Captain J.L. Kuipers, tel.: +31 577 453810


The Maastricht Upper Area Control Centre (MUAC), operated by EUROCONTROL on behalf of four States, provides control for the upper airspace (above 24,500 feet, i.e. approximately 7,500 metres) of Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and north-west Germany. The lower airspace is managed by the national providers, Belgocontrol, Luchtverkeersleiding Nederland (LVNL) and Deutsche Flugsicherung (DFS) respectively. Since 1972, MUAC has embodied the political commitment entered into by Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and Luxembourg to provide joint air traffic services. The international area of responsibility it covers is a perfect example of the simplification and harmonisation of airspace in Europe. MUAC is a model for cross-border projects in the spirit of the Single European Sky. More than 1.5 million flights pass through MUAC’s area of responsibility each year, making it the third busiest air traffic control facility in Europe in terms of traffic volume. During the summer, there are up to 5,200 flights per day. In order to facilitate the closest possible cooperation between civil and military air traffic, a Deutsche Flugsicherung (DFS) unit, controlling military operations over north-west Germany, is located on MUAC’s premises. Real-time radar and flight plan data is exchanged with the military aviation partners in Belgium. To further improve safety, MUAC controller working positions have been deployed at the Netherlands’ military facilities as a virtual extension of the MUAC ATC system. For several years in a row MUAC’s high performance has been reported in the ATM Cost-Efficiency (ACE) Benchmarking Reports. Royal Netherlands Air Force / AOCS NM (Air Operations Control Station Nieuw Milligen) The military ATC and Air Defence tasks of the Royal Netherlands Air Force are carried out at the Air Operations Control Station at Nieuw Milligen. The ATC Centre of the RNLAF provides air traffic service for military flights to and from specific training areas. It also controls civil and military flights around several airbases in the Netherlands. In addition, an aeronautical service is provided to the RNLAF airbases and external parties. The RNLAF Air Defence Unit is part of the integrated NATO system and monitors and coordinates defences within Dutch airspace. One of its tasks is operational support for the Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) force. AOCS NM plays an active role in the dynamic (inter)national ATC and air defence community and priority is given to flexibility and cooperation with civil partners.

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