Eurocontrol has implemented a three-layer sector configuration in the upper airspace covering the southern areas of Belgium and the Netherlands, Luxembourg and adjacent airspace in Germany and France to handle increasing air traffic demand. This airspace is managed in a cross-border mode by Eurocontrol’s Maastricht Upper Area Control Centre (MUAC).
Under the new configuration, the airspace is 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,” Eurocontrol officials said.
In the last three years, air traffic in the area under MUAC’s responsibility has increased by 8.6 percent, or 135,000 additional flights—far beyond predictions. Despite the fact that the Brussels sector group covers only 17 percent of MUAC’s total airspace, in 2016 it processed on average 20 percent more traffic than the other two MUAC sector groups. “With this growing trend, traffic demand regularly exceeds the capacity of the airspace,” officials said. “This new sectorization in Belgian airspace is one of several capacity-enhancing programs in progress.”
Overall European air traffic is expected to increase by 14 percent between 2016 and 2023, according to Eurocontrol.