Asia Pacific Advances Two New Air
Traffic Management Concepts
air navigation service providers (ANSPs) from China, Indonesia,
Japan, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and the
United States, as well as the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation
(CANSO) and International Air Transport Association (IATA),
signed an agreement on the Asia-Pacific Trajectory-Based Operation
(TBO) Pathfinder Project, to jointly define, develop and
demonstrate TBO for the Asia Pacific region within four years.
Five signatories comprising the
ANSPs from Indonesia, New Zealand, and Singapore, CANSO, and IATA,
signed an agreement on the South East Asia – Oceania
Implementation of Free Route Operations (FRTO) Project, to
identify applicable city pairs and flights, and validate the use
of FRTO between defined cities within a year.
The two initiatives are early products of the
Asia Pacific ANSP Committee (AAC) which was set up in April 2023
to enhance collaboration between ANSPs and drive regional air
traffic management (ATM)
collaboration, including in seamless ATM operations and
The AAC is chaired by Mr. Han Kok Juan,
Director-General, Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS).
Today, international flights are separately
and independently managed by the respective ANSP as they traverse
Flight Information Regions (FIRs). TBO will fundamentally change
the way air traffic is managed.
Under TBO, ANSPs work together to
plan and optimise an aircraft’s entire flight trajectory across
FIRs, from take-off to touchdown, and share information, such as
on weather, airspace closures, and other traffic constraints. This
will allow ANSPs to manage air traffic strategically ahead of
time, rather than make reactive course corrections as and when
information becomes available. It will also yield significant
benefits to airlines, passengers, and the environment, through
improved safety and efficiency, reduced delays and disruptions,
and lower fuel burn and emissions.
The Asia Pacific TBO Pathfinder Project will a)
define the concept of operations and requirements for TBO in the
Asia Pacific region; b) develop rules and procedures; and c)
demonstrate processes and technical capabilities developed through
laboratory simulations and live flight trials, which will help
build confidence and encourage adoption.
The Asia Pacific TBO Pathfinder project builds on learnings from the first-ever multi-regional TBO programme
conducted by the ANSPs of Canada, Japan, Singapore, Thailand and
the USA, which culminated in a Boeing demonstration
flight in June 2023.
While TBO is a long-term endeavour, ANSPs and
airlines can take immediate steps towards seamless ATM through
operational collaborations. The ANSPs from Indonesia, New Zealand,
and Singapore, IATA, and CANSO will work together to promote the
use of FRTO between various city pairs amongst the three
FRTO, also known as direct routes or user
preferred routes, can facilitate more efficient flight
trajectories, taking into consideration factors such as weather
and airspace closures.
In a traditionally structured ATM system, aircraft
follow a network of predefined routes akin to highways in the sky.
Under FRTO, the skies can be treated as an open canvas, where
aircraft are allowed the freedom to choose the most efficient and
effective path to their destination, reducing the distance
travelled, flight time, fuel burn, and emissions. This enables
more efficient use of airspace and enhances air traffic flow
The FRTO project will define and identify
applicable city pairs and flights, and involve trial flights to
demonstrate the effectiveness of FRTO measures. The trial
programme of the FRTO project is set to run from the first to
third quarter of 2024, with the objective of validating the use of
FRTO in day-to-day operations between defined cities from the
fourth quarter of 2024.
“We are heartened by the strong support
for these two initiatives. It demonstrates the shared commitment
of the ANSPs and our partners to build capacity and capabilities
to support aviation growth,” said Han Kok Juan, Director-General
of CAAS and Chairman of the AAC. “As air traffic continues its strong
recovery from the pandemic, we must strengthen collaboration
efforts to make flying for the public safer, more efficient and
sustainable. We hope that these two initiatives will demonstrate
what is achievable, build confidence and attract more ANSPs to
come on board.”
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