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Magnus Meese

NEFAB (Free route airspace)

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Hello! As of Nov 12th, NEFAB was introduced in Norway, Finland, Estonia and Latvia. This effectively means that our region is now affected by two free route airspace blocks (FAB), NEFAB and DK/SK FAB. I've just started to scratch the surface of the available info on this, but in essence I think this means that operators are free to route as they wish through either block, but still need to plan via a significant waypoint, navaid or coordinate on the borders between the two FABs. The lower limits for free routing are F285 in DK/SK, F135 in Norway and F095 in Fin/Est/Lat. The plan is to unify these two FABs next summer (2016), to allow for free routing across the entire region. Here are two screenshots representing my understanding of a possible routing between BIKF and ULOO under the current system, and post-summer 2016 (note that I'm not certain if ENOB is part of this, there's a chance you need to add a sigpoint at the western border of ENOR if routing north of ISVIG) :

Current system

Summer 2016

Here's an introductory article on the topic: http://www.nefab.eu/dev/view/86

Here's a chart depicting mandatory arr/dep routes to/from ENGM when free routing is used: https://www.ippc.no/norway_aip/current/aip/EN_ENR_6_3-23_en.pdf

Edited by Magnus Meese
Changed example pictures and added document (chart)
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Good information Magnus, just one correction. Currently there is actually three individual Free Route Airspace's. NEFAB is splitted in two where Finland, Estonia and Latvia create NEFAB East FRA and Norway (including Bodo oceanic, excluding the oceanic planning rules) does create NEFAB West FRA. So for example if you are Flying from Finland to Northern Norway (without entering Swedish or Russian airspace), you have to file a point on the border between Finland and Norway.

Otherwise the information on your post is correct. Just to add about Finland. Helsinki TMA is not part of the NEFAB and therefore you cannot do a direct through Helsinki TMA below FL285. Also there is some standard departure/arrival routings published for flight operatin in/out of Helsinki which are mandatory to use before entering the Free route airspace. Otherwise whole Finland above FL95 is free rute airspace and you can make directs freely between the FRA entry and exit points.

I have also contacted PFPX to get the free route airspace implemented in PFPX when it comes to flight operating in Finland at least, not sure if they will also implement Norway. After they get it done PFPX should be able to build FRA routes in Finland and also build correct routings in/out of EFHK.

More information from AIP Finland:

Edited by Jouka Ahponen

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The NEFRA project is taking another step forward allowing flights to take cross border directs between the different blocks when flights are cruising above FL285. Therefore in future flights can plan direct from Finland-Russia Border Straight to Denmark-UK border as long as the flight path stays inside the NEFRA area and the flight is flying above FL285. Flights below FL285 has to follow the rules of different blocks still and file a waypoint between the block borders.

This is going to be implemented on 25.5.2017 and I recon should be used also on VATSIM. On controller side most noticeable change will be longer directs and "ghost" COPX points because there is no more waypoint filed for example between Sweden and Finland on flights using the FRA. Local rules do still apply with departure and exit points etc. So for example from Helsinki, you have to follow the departure procedure to the FRA entry point before you can take a direct.

Most problems as a controller will probably raise when checking the validity of flight plan. It's good the have general idea for example of the main Scandinavian airport FRA entry and exit points. Especially for your own country but preferably for other big airports as well, so you can give better service helping pilots with flight planning. Maybe we could also make up some kind of controller FRA guide which would have all the procedures needed for quick access to check if the waypoints and procedures the pilot has filed are valid. Other than that FRA should not be that big of a problem to control because the traffic levels on Vatsim are rather low. During events it might be good to remind pilots to use the ATS system though as it eases the controller workload.

Here are now some links with great information any controller can have a look if they are interested. I really recommend you to have at least a quick look on these :)

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