Air traffic flow Management (ATFM)

The air traffic flow management (ATFM) is an activity aimed at the provision of safe, ordered and expeditious air traffic flow while ensuring optimal use of the available capacity.

ATFM measures are based on principles laid down by ICAO and all parties in the ATFM system should adhere to rules that ensure that air traffic control capacity is used safely and to the maximum extent possible.

ATFM measures should consider the availability of routes and airspace in particular through the application of the flexible use of airspace by all relevant parties including the airspace management cell laid down by Commission Regulation (EC) No 2150/2005 of 23 December 2005 laying down common rules for the flexible use of airspace.

ATFM measures shall:

  • prevent excessive air traffic demand compared with declared air traffic control (ATC) capacity of sectors and airports;
  • use European Air Traffic Management Network (EATMN) capacity to the maximum extent possible to optimise the efficiency of the EATMN and minimise adverse effects on operators;
  • optimise the EATMN capacity made available through the development and application of capacity enhancing measures by Air Traffic Services (ATS) units;
  • local ATFM units and the central unit for ATFM shall be considered as part of the ATFM function.

The air traffic flow management is provided centrally for EUROCONTROL Member States by the Network Manager’s Operations Centre and with the cooperation of the Flow Management Positions (FMPs) in ATS units. The information on the continual changes of the local conditions in which each ATS unit operates is collected centrally. Based on this information, different measures are applied, aimed at ensuring the continuousness of the flows and the avoidance of aircraft clustering, overreaching the defined capacity. Some of these measures are, determination of calculated take-off time, redirecting the flows to less loaded sectors, limitation of flight altitude etc. In addition, information about the expected air traffic load is provided to the ATS units, allowing the implementation of different sector configurations for efficiently usage of the available resources.