International Ops 2018

Flight Service Bureau | OPSGROUP

Tag: slots

Here’s what happens when Europe’s slot system crashes

On 3rd April 2018, a failure with the central European slot computer plunged the entire ATC system into crisis mode, with multiple knock on effects. Here’s what happened:

1. The system that allocates ATC slots to flights, and therefore manages the flow of traffic across Europe, failed at 1026 UTC. It’s called the ETFMS (Enhanced Tactical Flow Management System), but aka “The Slot Computer”

2. There is a Contingency Plan for this situation. Airports are supposed to use this, which gives a quick table of departure intervals allowed according to the destination. You can view the plan here and see what it looks like for all the main airports: http://www.eurocontrol.int/publications/network-manager-atfcm-procedural-contingency-plan

3. Some airlines reported that Istanbul, amongst others, were initially holding all departures, as local authorities were not well versed in the Contingency Plan and were unclear as to how to handle the situation. Eurocontrol then started calling round the 70 main airports to make sure they knew what they were supposed to do!

4. All flight plans filed before 1026Z were lost. Operators were instructed to re-file all their FPL’s, as well as those for the rest of the day, as Eurocontrol said they would only switch back on the slot computer once they reached a critical mass of filed flight plans in the system.

5. With the Contingency Plan in place, there was around a 10% total capacity reduction across the whole of Europe. Actual delay numbers – usually available on the NOP – were impossible to verify, because of all the missing FPL’s in the system.

6. Normally, Eurocontrol will re-address your FPL to ATC Centres outside the IFPZ. During the slot computer outage, operators had to do this manually, ie. find the FIR’s they would cross, get their AFTN addresses (like HECCZQZX), and send them their FPL.

7. The actual system failure was fixed at around 1400Z, but only went back online at around 1800Z, after it had been thoroughly tested and Eurocontrol were happy there were enough FPL’s back in the system.

In over 20 years of operation, Eurocontrol said “the ETFMS has only had one other outage which occurred in 2001. The system currently manages up to 36,000 flights a day.”

How to avoid delays into Greece – new procedures

Following on from the privatisation of Greek Airports this summer (see our article from earlier in June – Summer of Pain), there are new procedures for Greek Slots.

With delays super high into some of the smaller islands, especially at weekends, attention to the correct slot procedure is pretty important.

The slot you’ll get from the HSCA is valid +/- 30 mins. If you go outside that, then you’ll get a flight suspension message from Eurocontrol that looks like this.

FLIGHT PLAN SUSPENSION
ACCORDING TO YOUR FLIGHT PLAN
IFPLID 01020304
ARCID N765AC
ARCTYP C56X
EOBD 160201
EOBT 1945
ADEP LOWI
ADES LGMK
ELDT 2050
NO CORRESPONDING AIRPORT SLOT WAS RECOGNISED

To get a new slot, or the initial one, the official process is this:

  1. Go to www.online-coordination.com, check for avail times
  2. Pick a handler, and ask them to apply for it – use www.hsca.gr to find a handler.
  3. Refile the FPL with the Slot ID

If you have any issues, you can call H24 this number in Greece re. slots: +30 210 997 2656. And, we think, this email should also work: slot-hsca@athensairport.gr

References

 

 

 

Hong Kong is a pain in the ass – it’s official

After a few members complained, we put  the question out to OpsGroup:  is operating a non-scheduled flight to Hong Kong really that difficult?

The response was a resounding “Yes”. 

Why then? Operators talk of having to cancel planned flights, that it’s impossible to get a decent schedule, and even with a poor one, that lining up slots, parking, permits and handling is extremely difficult. End result: a mountain of frustration.

Trying to get slots at Hong Kong International Airport has always been tricky. Now the world’s third busiest airport with over 1000 flights per day departing from its two runways, severe congestion means that only a handful of daily slots have been available to private, corporate and non-scheduled operators.

Here’s a look at a typical daily slot availability chart at Hong Kong International Airport:

typical-daily-hk-slot-availability

Back in March 2016, the airport authority made it mandatory for all BA/GA operators to start using the Online Coordination System (OCS) to reserve their slots, rather than by email as they had done previously. But for many, this system has proven to be frustrating, as a lack of enforcement has meant that slot hoarding and mismanagement by some operators has largely gone unpunished.

But in a recent attempt to crack down on such behaviour and to prevent slots going unused, the airport authority has tightened restrictions for operators flying into or out of Hong Kong. You now need all 4 of the following to be confirmed in advance: landing permit, parking, ground handling, and slots.

New changes mean that slots can be booked up to 14 days in advance (instead of 7 days as before), and authorities will monitor the slot system for intentional misuse – which could lead to operators being banned from using the system altogether. Other violations include any cancellations of outbound flights less than 72 hours before departure, and delays on the day by more than 2 hours – although any off-slot operations outside a tolerance of +/-20 minutes can still flag up for potential slot misuse.

 

hk-apt-chart

As for parking – again, severe congestion means this is problematic. Parking is confirmed on a first-come-first-served basis, and can be applied for up to 30 days in advance – ultimately, the earlier you apply the better. However, parking requests for 5 days or more will likely be rejected, and overnight parking is often denied during busy periods. If this happens, unfortunately the best strategy is still to just keep making new applications until you get accepted!

Over 100 business jets use HKIA as their home base, but fewer than 70 parking spaces are available at any given time, and the GA ramp itself only has space for 20 aircraft. If full, the authorities will rarely grant parking on the commercial side, and often they will just deny the parking request altogether. Once your parking is approved, you’ll receive a confirmation, and this must be given to your ground handler.

It should be noted that the requests for the landing permit, parking, ground handling and slots are all separate from each other, and need to be applied for individually. We would recommend the following, in order:

 

1. Apply for LANDING PERMIT

Can be done whenever, but should probably be done first.

www.cad.gov.hk/english/efiling_home.html

Civil Aviation Department (CAD)

Email: asd@cad.gov.hk, gcmtse@cad.gov.hk

Phone: +852 2910-6648, -6629

 

2. Apply for PARKING

Can be done up to 14 days in advance of flight, the earlier you do this the better!

https://extranet.hongkongairport.com/baps/

Hong Kong Airport Authority (HKAA)

Email: bjetslot@hkairport.com

 

3. Apply for GROUND HANDLING

There are plenty of agents and handlers at VHHH, but only one dedicated FBO for BA/GA flights:

http://www.hkbac.com/en

Hong Kong Business Aviation Centre (HKBAC)

Email: hkbac@hkbac.com

Phone: +852 2949 9000

 

4. Apply for SLOTS

Will only be considered 14 days prior to flight.

http://www.hkgslot.gov.hk/Online_Coordination.html

Hong Kong Schedule Coordination Office (HKSCO)

Email: hkgslot@cad.gov.hk

Phone: +852 2910 6898

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