MAKC - The MUAC ATM Knowledge Centre
The mandate of the Maastricht ATM Knowledge Centre is to seize those opportunities which make the most of MUAC’s achievements over the years, and simultaneously to enhance its international ATM reputation. The MAKC is responsible for the cost recovery of mature MUAC products and services, and in those few words, MAKC represents a new dawn for MUAC.
The MAKC is responsible for the cost recovery of mature MUAC products and services
So how did we get here?
EUROCONTROL MUAC has, over the last 40 years, developed unique ATM knowledge and experience from which others could benefit - experiences indeed, for which other ANSPs are regularly requesting support so as to replicate in their own organisations.
In 2004, MUAC reacted to politically and practically damaging air traffic delays by modernising its approach to operational management. According to some estimates, by 2006, an overhaul of the capacity management techniques in the (pre-)tactical phase had realised true gains in capacity in the order of 30%, whilst maintaining safety standards. Impressive stuff. And we weren’t alone - our neighbours in the UK and Germany embarked upon similar ATM evolutions, eventually adopted by the Network Manager (then CFMU) as best practice, and today those practises form the backbone of the European ATFCM (Air Traffic Flow and Capacity Management) methodology in en-route centres.
However, increasing workload pressures on operational staff brought their own difficulties, and by 2005, MUAC management and staff representatives were looking for ways to both ease the burden upon ATCOs and at the same time to further boost productivity, in order to successfully deliver ATM services according to our customers’ increasing demands. A tough ask.
After nearly three years of feverish simulation and negotiation, in 2008 the new MUAC roster was introduced. Even though not all the benefits of the new roster were realised that first year after implementation, improvements in efficiency of staff allocation saved six million euros, and improved the health and safety of ATCOs by - amongst other elements - removing the requirements for back-to-back duties, reducing the length of every shift, and slashing the number of working duties in a year.
Coupled with a new, state-of-the-art Flight Data Processing System (FDPS) and other sophisticated technical innovations, all built to be sympathetic to the ATFCM as well as ATC methodologies, and MUAC was - by 2009 - well prepared for the future. Moreover, to ensure it remained in tune with developing customer requirements, MUAC established a performance management framework, applicable not just at operations room level, but across the entire centre. This innovation and cultural change to ANSP business was perfectly placed to meet the fresh aspirations and regulations of the Single European Sky (SES) Performance Scheme.
Since then, the features and principles of the MUAC roster have been adopted by EASA (the European Aviation Safety Agency), and form the basis of the international approach to “best practice” rostering in ATM, which is now defined in legislation under the Fatigue Risk Management System (FRMS) EU regulations and ICAO Recommendations. More generally, not only has the MUAC roster been recognised with respect to the practical aspects of healthy and efficient rostering regimes, but also with respect to the negotiating techniques between staff representatives and ANSP management which allow such sensitive changes to proceed to a successful conclusion.
As a consequence, since 2009, MUAC has been approached by dozens of ANSPs and government agencies, from around the world, all of them seeking advice and support for achieving similar change programmes. However, the legal definition and financial status of EUROCONTROL, and MUAC in particular, have long been impediments to MUAC realising little more than altruistic benefits by assisting other units. The key motivation was lacking!
But finally, in the years after the last global recession, attitudes began to shift and possibilities began to emerge. Financial pressures on MUAC encouraged innovative approaches to cost reduction, and the idea of creating a business unit to monetise either consultant services, technical development cost recovery, or both, was born.
After one long afternoon in a Scottish bar, the first MUAC customer was realised. AVINOR, the Norwegian ANSP, formally requested support for modernisation of its performance management approach (including the performance areas; capacity and resource management). And in 2012, EUROCONTROL was approached by the Brazilian ANSP, DECEA, with a view to completing a cooperation agreement covering various aspects of ATM, one of which became “New Roster Philosophies and Tools”.
Then in 2016, with the background of changes to the governance of MUAC, the MUAC Board elected to initiate a trial of a new business unit, aiming to recover the cost of existing MUAC developments according to the limited legal possibilities. MAKC was created in January 2017, on a three year trial basis:
The MAKC will create and be responsible for new ATM business products and services, its business revenue will reduce the MUAC cost-base and it will enhance MUAC's worldwide ATM reputation by leveraging unique and marketable ATM expertise.
In summary, it’s taken at least six years, on the back of 40 years of cutting-edge development, for MAKC to get this far. So where are we today?
MAKC has been assisting AVINOR with a modernisation programme since 2013. The programme focuses, in particular, on the creation of post-ops analysis capabilities together with an overarching Performance Management System.
The “New Roster Philosophies and Tools” Agreement with DECEA, ratified in 2015, has been converted into a large development programme, planned to be delivered over the next three to four years. At the heart of the work is the implementation of the “TOTAL ATM” approach to a performance management framework, with specific work packages aiming at significant improvements in resource management, capacity management and customer orientation.
The programme has three main deliverables:
TimeZone implementation as interim support
Consultancy in support of the change programme “TOTAL ATM”
Requirement development for DECEA’s complete resource management toolset
in the pipeline
If we’ve learnt anything in MAKC in the last few years, it’s not to count your chickens until they hatch. Nevertheless, draft programmes exist, awaiting formal agreement, with Cambodia, Morocco, and a location in the Middle East.
Beyond that, negotiations are continuing with a number of other parties, including: Lithuania (Vilnius ACC), Greece(Athens ACC), Czech Republic (Prague ACC), and a ‘special task’ in Spain.