A new three-layer sector configuration has
been implemented in the upper airspace covering the south of Belgium,
Luxembourg, the south of the Netherlands and adjacent airspace in Germany and
France to cope with soaring air traffic demand.
This airspace is managed in a cross-border
mode by EUROCONTROLís Maastricht Upper Area Control Centre (MUAC).
In the last three years, air traffic in the
area under MUACís responsibility (upper airspace of Belgium, the Netherlands,
Luxembourg and north-west Germany) increased by 8.6% or 135,000 additional
flights - far beyond predictions. Located at the crossroads of European
airspace, this particular area in southern Belgium, which is part of the
so-called Brussels sector group, has experienced ever increasing demand from
Despite the fact that the Brussels sector
group only covers 17% of MUACís total airspace, in 2016, it processed on average
20% more traffic than the other two MUAC sector groups (Germany and the
Netherlands). With this growing trend, traffic demand regularly exceeds the
capacity of the airspace. Several capacity-enhancing programmes are therefore in
progress; this new sectorisation in Belgian airspace is one of them.
Following the new configuration, the airspace
can now be split into three horizontal layers: from 24,500 to 33,500 feet; from
33,500 to 37,500 feet and from 37,500 to 66,000 feet. This creates additional
possibilities for a more optimum distribution of workload among air traffic
controllers during traffic peaks. Work is continuing to fine-tune and optimise
the use of the new configurations on the basis of the experience which is being
The ultimate goal is to prepare for the future
and ensure a safe, cost-efficient and sustainable service to aircraft operators,
taking into account growing traffic numbers and modern aircraft performance such
as higher cruising levels.
With overall European air traffic to grow by
14% between 2016 and 2023, steady growth in traffic demand is expected to
continue in the coming years.
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