ToBeFree – Trajectory-based free routing in lower airspace

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A real-time simulation was conducted in the framework of SESAR PJ06 Solution 2 at the EUROCONTROL Experimental Centre in December 2018, thanks to international cooperation between Poland PANSA, Lithuania ORO NAVIGACIJA (ON), Rzeszow (PL) University of Technology (RUT), and EUROCONTROL.

The simulation represents a major step towards extending the implementation of free route Airspace (FRA) below FL310 as targeted in the SESAR Solution. The operational environment concerned was the Baltic FAB, in particular the area of responsibility of Warsaw ACC and Vilnius ACC from FL95 to FL660.


The primary focus of the simulation was the impact on ATCO human performance (HP) of FRA operations, in order to respond to the acceptability and operational feasibility of the SESAR Solution.

Whilst we expect benefits for airspace users if they can fly their preferred trajectories, the ANSPs are more concerned by the possible negative impact of full deployment of FRA on airspace complexity and hence on ATCO performance.

The simulation, with the participation of ATCOs from PANSA and ON, was conducted on the ESCAPE ATC RTS platform with various operational scenarios (e.g. different airspace configurations in FRA). We collected quantitative and qualitative operational data and feedback to assess human performance, such as ATCOs’ workload and situational awareness.

As a secondary objective, the simulation assessed the benefits of FRA in lower airspace in terms of flight efficiency and predictability. These performance-driven objectives were addressed by making use of recorded aircraft navigation data in the simulation.

Multi-tier validation

The simulation conducted at the EUROCONTROL Experimental Centre is part of a more comprehensive validation approach complemented by two other activities.

RUT is leading a study into and the assessment of a new alternative tool for flight planning, specifically dedicated to general aviation (GA) with the twofold objective of optimising the current flight planning workload and taking greater advantage of the possibilities for planning routes offered by FRA.

PANSA is leading another real-time simulation to address cybersecurity aspects, which may interfere with the implementation of FRA.

All these activities were carried out with EUROCONTROL’s validation support in order to guarantee consistency and consolidation of the results.

The validation report, taking into account the results of the various validation exercises, will be published in the coming months and will be made available via the SESAR 2020 communication channels.

Wspieranie lotnictwa europejskiego razem w Polsce i na Litwie.

Kartu palaikome Europos Aviaciją – Lietuvoje ir Lenkijoje


At a glance

The simulation conducted at the EUROCONTROL Experimental Centre included three different exercise scenarios (each one-hour long) repeated four times in order to obtain significant results.

Twenty-four ATCOs from PANSA and ON rotated over the eight simulated airspace sectors (i.e. sixteen working positions) and the eight feed sectors simulated to include TMAs and neighbouring airspace.

The simulation also saw the involvement of several EUROCONTROL experts in the technical, operational and validation domain supported by PANSA and ON operational staff.

Measured exercises

Air traffic controllers

ACC sectors covered

Experts involved



Grzegorz Zacharczuk

Grzegorz Zacharczuk

PANSA Strategic Planning Dept ASM PJ06-02 solution leader

“Based on previous simulations that PANSA had in Brétigny and having EUROCONTROL as a member of PJ06-02 project we knew that this would be a positive venture. The flexibility of the ESCAPE test platform allowed us to emulate various unique local systems and airspace solutions, including cross-border aspects. Adding the experience of EUROCONTROL experts to their flexibility and ability to carry out validations in realistic conditions guaranteed high quality results.”

Julija Razmislavičienė

Julija Razmislavičienė

ON/PJ06-02 project member

“All the teams worked together and did well preparing and executing the exercises. The experience we had is invaluable.”

Hanna Neroj

Hanna Neroj

Trainee Rzeszow University of Technology at EUROCONTROL

“This project shows perfectly, that when academic research meets the operational environment, we can achieve more valuable results.”

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