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IFATCA Provisional Policy is:

The situation awareness of the controller shall be a key element to enable that controller to maintain active monitoring of flights conducted in “Free Flight Airspace” and to enable them to interact co-operatively with aircrew.

Due to the unpredictable nature of aircraft manoeuvres in “Free Flight Airspace”, the responsibility for conflict detection and resolution, and the maintenance of the safe separation function, should rest with the pilot in command of that flight.

Procedures shall be established to safely integrate any aircraft into a “Managed Airspace” environment when no longer able to meet the requirements of the “Free Flight Concept”.

Clear guidelines and procedures shall be established to resolve any differences of aircraft and ATC conflict alerting systems and the reactions that pilots and controllers will be required to take when conflict alerts are indicated.

The question of de-skilling of ATC personnel shall be considered when effectively delegating conflict alert and resolution action to automated systems.

The importance of a human centred approach to the “Free Flight Concept” should be a priority and one that recognises the limitations of both human and automated systems and the interaction that results.

It cannot be assumed that ground based, human centred systems (Air Traffic Control) can simply take over the responsibility for the control and separation assurance of flights operating within Free Flight Airspace in the event of a failure of airborne systems. The limits of human-centred control shall be clearly established when considering ATC as a back-up to the “Free Flight Concept”. This is especially important when considering significant airspace capacity increases using the “Free Flight Concept”.

Ground based conflict alert systems and ASAS shall be proven in all circumstances before the “Free Flight Concept” is adopted.

The dispersion of workload from the ground to the cockpit needs to be reviewed carefully. The “Free Flight Concept” appears to accept that the transfer of responsibility for separation and associated workload can be safely accommodated by aircrew.

Consideration should be given to the establishment of suitable qualifications for aircrew operating in Free Flight airspace. The term “EFR” already seems to be accepted as a suitable acronym for “Electronic Flight Rules”.

See: WP 161 – Santiago 1999, Resolution C46 – WP 79 – Virtual 2022


Last Update: August 11, 2022  

November 4, 2019   558   Jean-Francois Lepage    WC    

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