Visitors of Eurocontrol Copyright: © Fsd

Visit of EUROCONTROL Maastricht Upper Area Control Center (MUAC)

As part of the flight guidance lecture of the Institute of Flight System Dynamics, the EUROCONTROL at Maastricht Airport was visited on 18.01.2023. The Maastricht Upper Area Control Center (MUAC) monitors the upper airspace over Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Northwest Germany. Upper airspace is defined as the airspace above AGL 245 (between 24 500 and 66 000 feet). In addition to monitoring the airspace, the MUAC develops the software for monitoring the airspace itself and therefore employs not only more than 300 air traffic controllers but also numerous engineers from various disciplines. Due to the close cooperation between air traffic controllers and engineers, the needs of the air traffic controllers can be better implemented.

During the visit, it was possible to gain an insight into the work of the air traffic controllers and the engineers of the MUAC. It was particularly interesting to see how the work of the air traffic controllers is supported by the software developed at MUAC. Using new messaging technology, individual text messages are exchanged between the pilots and the air traffic controllers so that long radio messages can be avoided. Apart from this, a "ground flight path" and the current flight path are displayed for suitably equipped aircraft. This gives controllers additional control over the flight path. With the new technology, the optimal starting points for the "Climb" and "Descend" can be displayed. This can save large amounts of ¬CO¬2. The message system is called CPDLC.

Apart from the introduction to the controller software, an insight into the controller's workplace was gained. The control room consists of many computers arranged in a ring. This ring can be divided into quarters, each quarter monitoring a different airspace, so that the whole area can be monitored.

In addition to the real control room, the training room could also be visited. It is used for training the trainee air traffic controllers. At the same time, it also serves as a "fallback" in case the actual control room fails. Various training scenarios can be simulated on the air traffic controller computers in order to train the new air traffic controllers for all situations. The trainees are divided into different groups so that one part trains as air traffic controllers and the other part plays the pilots. The training lasts about 3 years in total. The visit to EUROCONTROL was extremely exciting and can be repeated with pleasure.