Free routes liberate airspace with a stepwise method

03 January 2018
FRA is being rolled out at Langen (pictured) and other DFS control centres, to cover all German airspace above FL245 on a 24-hour basis. Source: DFS

The busiest airspace in Europe is set to benefit from the introduction of Free Route Airspace

European Union (EU) Regulation 716/2014 requires European states to implement Free Route Airspace (FRA) at and above Flight Level 310 (FL310) from 1 January 2022. FRA enables airspace users to plan a route between a defined entry point and a defined exit point, subject to air traffic control, rather than adhere to the current fixed route network. Eurocontrol estimates it could reduce flight distances by 7.5 million n miles annually, helping to meet the demands of future airspace users such as civil and military unmanned aerial systems (UASs), airships, and spaceplanes.

Extensive free routing is already available to airspace users, but it is predominantly confined to relatively uncongested airspace. For example, Northern European FRA supports seamless flights across Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Norway, and Sweden above FL285. In southeast Europe, cross-border FRA has been in place over Slovenia and Austria since 2016, when HungaroControl also abolished its route network altogether in favour of unrestricted free routes, saving up to 1.5 million km annually.

FRA for core Europe

Now the focus is turning to busy core airspace in western and central Europe, where complex route structures, closely located hub airports, and shared civil-military airspace all present a challenge.

Ensuring the ground infrastructure can support FRA is crucial to its delivery. Air navigation service providers (ANSPs) are investing in advanced flight data processing systems, which enable trajectory-based flight and support the navigation capability on modern aircraft. At the Maastricht Upper Area Control Centre (MUAC) in the Netherlands, and the Karlsruhe Upper Area Control Centre in Germany, early versions of interoperability

Want to read more? For analysis on this article and access to all our insight content, please enquire about our subscription options at

(298 of 1557 words)



    BJX/MMLO AIRFIELD REF PT.: N20 59.36 W101 28.51 CFR : 0 MAX RWY LENGTH : 11,480' 3,499 m General Information SURFACE : Rwy 13/31, 11,480' 3,499 m, width 148' 45 m, asphalt, PCN 74 F/C/X/T. AIRFIELD OPERATOR : Grupo Aeroportuario del Pacifico, Km 5.5 Carretera Silao-Leon 0, Col. New Mexico Silao,


    UVF/TLPL AIRFIELD REF PT.: N13 43.99 W060 57.16 ELEVATION : 14' 4m CFR : 8 MAX RWY LENGTH : 9,000' 2,743m General Information SURFACE : Rwy 10/28, 9,000' 2,743 m, width 148' 45 m, asphalt. RUNWAY LIGHTING : Rwy 10: MIRL, single row CL, PAPI.Rwy 28: MIRL, PAPI. NAVIGATION AIDS : VOR/DME


    IFN/OIFM AIRFIELD REF PT.: N32 45.03 E051 51.40 ELEVATION : 5059' 1542m CFR : 0 MAX RWY LENGTH : 14,425' 4,397 m General Information SURFACE : Rwy 8R/26L, 14,425' 4,397 m, width 148' 45 m, asphalt. ADDITIONAL RUNWAYS : Rwy 8L/26R, 14,425' 4,397 m, width 148' 45 m, asphalt. ALTERNATIVE NAME(S) :


    SSG/FGSL AIRFIELD REF PT.: N03 45.18 E008 42.31 ELEVATION : 76' 23m CFR : 0 MAX RWY LENGTH : 9,646' 2,940m General Information SURFACE : Rwy 05/23, 9,647' 2,940 m, width 151' 46 m, concrete. RUNWAY LIGHTING : LIRL, REIL, PAPI. NAVIGATION AIDS : VOR-DME (Malabo, ID MBO, 114.5 KHz, 1.0 nm); NDB


    LWN/UDSG AIRFIELD REF PT.: N40 45.01 E043 51.33 CFR : 0 MAX RWY LENGTH : Ft M General Information SURFACE : Runway ID Ft M WidthFt WidthM Surface PCN AIRFIELD OPERATOR : Armenia International Airports (CJSCZ), Vartnots International Airport, Gyumri, Armenia. PHONE : +374 10 49 30 00 FAX :