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Europe’s Airspace Gets New Unsafe Plane Alert System

The European authorities responsible for regulating European airspace, Eurocontrol and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) have brought live a new system which alerts air traffic controllers when unsafe aircraft enter European airspace.

Network Management Director at Eurocontrol Joe Sultana, informed Computer Business Review that: “all the technical details, all the operational details are checked through our software system. Then this flight plan is redistributed to control centres where this aircraft is going to fly.”

“We have added another parameter to our check list, to our system, and this is now checking if an aircraft coming from outside of Europe is coming from a state where the regulatory environment is accepted by the European Aviation Safety Agency,” said Mr Sultana.

Speaking to Computer Business Review, Andy Woollin Flight Planning and Web Services Domain Manager at Eurocontrol said: ‘’We put a component into our group of systems which takes an automatic feed of the Third Country Operator Authorisation which are in database in Cologne owned by the European Aviation Safety Agency.’’

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The European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation (Eurocontrol) is Europe’s air traffic managers and deal with roughly 34,000 flights plans a day.

Authorisation Just Got Easier

The regulation that a plane coming from a non EU country must have a Third Country Operator Authorisation has been in place since 2014, but controllers have had no way to implement it across the 30,000 flights  it receives into Europe each day, until this new component was entered into their systems.

Woollin added that: “this new system that we have is an alerting system which compares the Third Country Operator Authorisation from EASA with the flight plans that we have here at Euro Control Network Manager.”

Eurocontrol receives the flight plans of all aircraft entering into European air space, while the EASA holds the Third Country Operator Authorisations information which confirms that planes are from countries with recognised safe regulatory practices.

The new parameters added to the air management control system automates the authorisation checks and brings into contact Eurocontrol’s flight plans data set with EASA’s Third Country Operator Authorisation records.

“When something doesn’t match, a flight plan is received coming from a country outside Europe which doesn’t have the authorities from EASA to operate, we will then alert the national aviation authorities in the country where this flight is planned to land,” says Andy Woollin.

It is then up to the authorities in that Airport to do an investigation to find out why that plane was flown in EU airspace without a Third Country Operator Authorisation.

Eurocontrol have been designated the network manager by the European Commission.
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