BOREALIS Free Route Airspace – establishing a free route airspace in nine North European countries

BOREALIS Free Route Airspace – establishing a free route airspace in nine North European countries

Establishing a cross-border free route airspace is an important long-term project implementing the European Commission’s vision of a Single European Sky (SES) to reduce fragmentation and improve efficiency of air traffic control in Europe. These changes are being implemented in the framework of the Borealis Free Route Airspace scheme by the Borealis Alliance members – air traffic control service providers of nine North European countries, including “Latvijas gaisa satiksme”.

The 1st phase of the project saw the introduction of a free route airspace in four member states of the North European Functional Airspace Block (NEFAB) – Estonia, Latvia, Norway and Finland as of 12 November 2015. In Estonia, Latvia and Finland the free route airspace is available from flight level 95 (FL95, which is 9,500 feet or 2.9 km), while in Norway it is available from flight level 135. For airspace users in NEFAB countries, the introduction of free route airspace allows them to plan flight routes according to their wishes by being able to choose the shortest and/or economically most viable trajectories.

Continuing the development of the initiative, in the 2nd phase of the project an interface was introduced as of 23 June 2016 linking the Estonian, Latvian and Finnish free route airspace above flight level 285 with Denmark and Sweden, thus establishing a single free route airspace in five countries. In this airspace there is no need to stay on specific airways even when crossing the borders of national airspaces. The single free route airspace continued to be expanded with Norway joining in May 2017, and interfaces with the free route airspaces of the UK, Ireland and Iceland being introduced by the end of 2021.

Introduction of free routing in such a broad airspace allows airlines to significantly reduce flight times, as well as fuel consumption, thus also greatly reducing costs. The implementation of these ambitious goals is a step towards the creation of a Single European Sky.

For more information about the Borealis Free Route Airspace scheme, visit the Borealis Alliance webpage.

The project received co-funding from the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) in the framework of a transport project competition.