Geneva, June 29, 2006. Skyguide has concluded its new scheduling and project planning for the unification of its upper airspace and has decided to newly implement this from 2008 onwards. The new Upper Area Control Center Switzerland (UAC-CH), which will manage and monitor the new single upper airspace area, will still be established in Geneva as originally envisaged. The unification of skyguide’s upper airspace will be effected in full compliance with the Eurocontrol Safety Regulatory Requirements (ESARRs), the new international safety and quality standards that are currently being adopted at skyguide and throughout Europe. The control of Switzerland’s upper airspace will continue to be shared between skyguide’s Geneva and Zurich operations until its unification.
Skyguide has taken the decision not to unify its upper airspace before 2008 for a number of reasons. The company will be conducting several further key and fundamental projects over the next few months. These projects cannot be postponed and have thus been given priority in its overall project planning. In addition to this, the unification of Switzerland’s upper airspace should be effected in full compliance with the new ESARRs; in view of this, skyguide wishes to first conclude its current comprehensive programme for the implementation of these new safety and quality requirements. The adoption of the ESARRs also requires sizeable amounts of time and resources from skyguide. The unification of the upper airspace should therefore also be allocated the time required to ensure that it is conducted as efficiently and effectively as possible.
New overall project planning priorities
When analysing the present situation, skyguide came to the conclusion that it had underestimated the ramifications of the new ESARRs which are currently being implemented throughout Europe. The decision by the Swiss Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA) in March 2006 to withhold its approval of the proposed UAC-CH also entailed adjustments to skyguide’s overall project planning and thus resulted in a redefinition of the priorities for the projects ahead. As a result, implementing the ESARRs, achieving Single European Sky certification, modernising technical systems in Zurich and providing an instrument landing system (ILS) capability for Zurich’s Runway 28 have now been given priority over the upper airspace unification.
A solution for air traffic controllers
The postponement of UAC-CH to a timeframe from 2008 onwards also creates an entirely new situation, for the 44 air traffic controllers whose workplaces should have been transferred from Zurich to Geneva in March 2006, some of whom have already relocated their homes to the Geneva region. Skyguide is seeking solutions for the individuals concerned, and discussions to this end are already under way.
UAC-CH in brief
Skyguide’s upper airspace (from Flight Level 245 upwards, i.e. 24 500 feet or about 7 500 metres above sea level) is currently divided into an eastern region controlled from Zurich and a western region managed from Geneva. In the future, the two regions should be amalgamated to form a single Swiss upper airspace area, which will be controlled from a new Geneva-based Upper Area Control Center Switzerland or UAC-CH. The amalgamation of the two current upper airspace regions into UAC-CH is accompanied by various technical innovations. The controllers’ new workstations are totally digitised. This has, for example, allowed paper flight strips to be superseded by a "stripless" electronic system. The new system has been approved by the FOCA, and has been in operation in Geneva since December 2005. It should be extended throughout Switzerland with the creation of the single upper airspace area.
Further information on the ESARRs will be found in the "Safety" dossier on the www.skyguide.ch website.
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