In order to cope with soaring air traffic demand, EUROCONTROL’s Maastricht Upper Area Control Centre (MUAC) has introduced new technology - the Sector Opening Table Architect -, which takes historic “big” data into account to improve the efficiency of its air traffic management operations.
The Sector Opening Table Architect is one of MUAC’s post-operational analysis and business intelligence activities, designed to integrate “big” data into the various areas of operations to maintain safety while further improving controller and sector productivity. It is part of a wider programme - the ATC2ATM Programme, which aims to bridge the gap between the air traffic flow and capacity management and the air traffic control functions in order to achieve further improvements in efficiency and capacity.
Even though the process of using historical data sets has been in place at MUAC for years and has contributed to high controller productivity, the Sector Opening Table Architect now integrates a greater and much wider range of historic data. As a result, it ensures that the optimum number of air traffic controllers is planned throughout the day and that the airspace configurations meet the expected traffic demand in an even more efficient manner.
Optimum capacity planning and airspace configurations are key to maintaining the highest possible controller productivity. The Sector Opening Table Architect offers key data such as historical traffic records, traffic predictions, former regulation/scenario usage and the associated delay information, historical activity of temporary segregated areas, past static and dynamic traffic monitoring values and conclusions stemming from post-operational analysis work.
Using big data, post-operational analysts are now able to report on the efficiency of the capacity planning process, of past air traffic regulations and on periods of exceptional controller workload. These reports are then analysed and converted into proposals that are displayed, via the Sector Opening Table Architect, to both air traffic control planners and tactical staff. This process ensures streamlined feedback from post-operational analysis into both the tactical decision-making process and future planning. The Sector Opening Table Architect also offers an integrated comment mechanism that allows planners, tactical staff and post-operational analysts to collaborate more closely.
In the near future, the tool will also include historical controller workload reports, assumed traffic loads, traffic bunching and clustering, unanticipated traffic, weather data, slot adherence data, STATFOR predictions and more.
The Sector Opening Table Architect and other improvements are welcome as ever, since the busy summer period has already started for MUAC controllers, with daily traffic counts reaching up to 5,700 controlled flights a day.