The worldwide patchwork of FIRs and associated ANSPs is a cause of operational and organisational inefficiencies. In Europe, where the problem is most pronounced due to the large number of states and flights, functional airspace blocks (FABs) were envisaged as a solution; however, implementation has been slower than expected. Virtual centres provide a method of virtual, rather than physical, consolidation by isolating and geographically decoupling the data and control elements of ATM, which may provide an alternative path to achieve the aims of FABs. There remain a number of technical as well as professional and legal challenges to the virtual centre concept but its development continues. Along with space-based ADS-B, virtual centres are an example of the increasing reliance that ANSPs are placing on third parties for communication, navigation and surveillance data.
IFATCA Policy is:
ATM data must be of sufficient quality, reliability and integrity for its intended use.
Organisations that provide ATM services beyond state borders shall clearly define the operational legal implications of providing these services, and train controllers in the implications.
The efficient creation and management of an FAB does not necessarily require the physical concentration of all ANS functions within a single centre.
Consideration shall be given to the personal and social implications for controllers associated with the relocation and/or consolidation of ATS units.
Consolidation of ATS units, whether virtual or physical, shall be considered equal to the implementation of a new ATM system.
|See: WP 105 – Buenos Aires 2003, WP 84 – Toronto 2017|
Last Update: October 2, 2020