A European project focusing on the development of controller support tools has succeeded in raising their rate of introduction, although the challenge is now improving cross-border cooperation in this area.

The six-year First ATC Support Tools Implementation (FASTI) program is drawing to a close, but Eurocontrol is confident enough momentum has been created through this effort to spur deployment in the near future. Through the program's duration, 36 air navigation service providers and equipment suppliers participated.

Eurocontrol says many ANSPs are already using the support tools, while others have FASTI-related plans in place. The last year alone saw significant deployments in the core areas of Europe.

The aim of FASTI was to reduce controller workload during peak periods. The program examined tasks such as conflict detection, planning, monitoring and coordination, as well as tools and system support to help with these tasks and reduce the per-aircraft workload. Another aim was to transfer more work from tactical controllers' to those with overall planning roles, which would also help make ATM more proactive than reactive.

A recent FASTI workshop hosted by Switzerland's Skyguide demonstrated that many ANSPs are now “either planning or conducting FASTI implementation as an integral part of deploying new [ATM] systems or upgrades,” Eurocontrol says. “In general, deployment of FASTI tools is well underway—particularly in areas where it is most needed.” Some ANSPs have reported capacity gains of up to 20% through the use of these systems. The full presentations from the workshop have been posted online by Eurocontrol.

The program has helped lay the groundwork for trajectory-based operations, one of the major targets of the SESAR ATM modernization plan, says Eurocontrol.

One of the main challenges now will be making sure all the individual FASTI efforts are suited to the airspace consolidation goals of the Single European Sky program. “Right now, we need to speed up full cross-border implementation of system-supported coordination so that local [systems] can work together and, most importantly, greatly improve overall network performance,” says Eurocontrol.