Finland and Estonia are working on merging their air traffic controllers in a move that could happen as early as next year. Both countries claim the merger will offer multiple benefits, including increased air safety, reduced CO2 emissions and lower costs.
Unifying air traffic control systems
Finland is holding discussions with Estonia about the possibility of merging air traffic control systems as early as next year. With both countries sharing common airspace, creating a unified air traffic control system would help reduce costs and improve air safety.
The new model will involve a centralized system accessible in both countries. This virtual air traffic control system will essentially be under single management but operated in two separate cities by Finnish air traffic controllers in Vantaa and Lennuliiklusteeninduse AS in Tallinn. In emergencies, full control of individual airspace would be restored to each country.
According to Raine Luojus, CEO of Fintraffic,
“It [could be] used as if it were one team. A Finn can control an Estonian airspace sector and vice versa. That would be sensible action. There may even be a situation where Finnish air traffic control provides service to the entire Estonian airspace for an hour or two, then it takes a break and Estonian air traffic control provides service to Finland.”
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Improved air safety, lower emissions and costs
There are multiple advantages to merging air traffic systems between the two countries, including reduced emissions and costs for operators. A unified ATC system would help airlines to plot more efficient routes to the benefit of themselves, passengers and the environment.
“In Europe, airspace is small, but each country has its own air navigation company or authority. Once each country has built its own system, the costs increase. Europe has a very fragmented model, with airlines ultimately paying the costs.”
Fintraffic Air Navigation Services (Fintraffic ANS), which handles air traffic control in Finland, will work together with Estonian Air Navigation Services (Estonian ANS) on the project. Although no date has been finalized, officials are looking at getting the new system live sometime next year.
Air safety is also a key issue that would be improved upon under a unified ATC system. Air traffic controllers in both countries will pool weather data, making for safer flights. Shared airspace over the Gulf of Finland often hosts military planes flying without transponders or Russian military aircraft flying without communication.
Finland aspires to be cleanest in the world
Earlier this year, Fintraffic teamed up with flag carrier Finnair to work on reducing carbon emissions. This project helped Finnair to optimize fuel consumption through flying more efficient routes, aided by the data provided by Fintraffic. This is part of Fintraffic’s goal of establishing Finnish airspace as the cleanest worldwide.
Fintraffic CEO Luojus has stressed that merging Finland’s and Estonia’s air traffic systems would not lead to redundancies. Instead, he even hinted it may be necessary to hire more controllers as airspace traffic increases.
Do you think this ATC merger between Finland and Estonia will be successful? Let us know what you think in the comments.