Monday, August 2, 2010

Serbian eyes on Balkan skies

New Belgrade Control Centre building
The multi million Euro state of the art air control centre in Belgrade will be complete in several months and will mark a landmark change in air traffic control in the region. The new building, located next to Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport, has 9.500 square metres and construction on the building began in March 2009. The building will be complete on October 10, 2010 – six months ahead of schedule. Upon its completion, all the latest equipment will be put into function and controllers will move in from May 2011. A total of 500 controllers will be able to work at the same time inside the building and 4.000 aircraft will be handled per day. Belgrade control takes care of Serbia’s and Montenegro’s airspace, as well as 55% of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s airspace and the airspace above international waters of the Adriatic Sea.

Eurocontrol, the agency responsible for air traffic control in Europe, has begun implementing its “Single European Sky” initiative which began back in 1999. The key objectives of this initiative are to restructure European airspace as a function of air traffic flows, to create additional capacity and to increase the overall efficiency of the European air traffic management system. The initiative plans to close down many air traffic control centres in Europe and leave only several in key areas of Europe. Belgrade has been selected to control the skies over the entire Balkan Peninsula. This controversial part of the initiative will begin implementation from 2012.

The construction cost of the new air traffic control centre in Belgrade amounts to 19 million Euros while, together with the new equipment, the entire project tops 90 million Euros. According to the project manager, Belgrade will have the most up to date air control centre in the world and the largest control centre in the Balkans.

9 comments:

  1. What is the point of building this right next to the airport in Belgrade? If it doesn't need to be there, then you could put it anywhere and use that space for buildings (eg. extra car parking, airport hotel, etc) that actually add value to the airport itself. I'm not an expert in air traffic control, so if anyone can answer I'd be interested to hear...

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  2. I am sure there is a logical reason why they have decided to place it there... I am sure that if there needs to be meetings or something it's always better to be right next to the airport rather than in the city...
    Does this mean thta we might see an increase in passengers to Belgrade? (from the region of course)

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  3. There are two types of air traffic control: terminal and en-route. For terminal control you need to be at the airport because there are advantages to actually seeing where the aircraft are and what they are doing. This control centre (if my understanding is correct) is for en-route traffic and it could mean traffic to BEG or any other traffic landing in the Balkans or just crossing over.

    If it is en-route control centre then there is absolutely no reason why it must be near the airport terminal. London, for example, has its control centre near Southampton. For safety reasons these centres are usually in secluded areas where there is not much traffic and "the danger" can be seen from miles away.

    The only reason why this control centre might be close to the terminal is because probably the back-up centre - if something goes badly wrong, such as the building is on fire - is within the terminal and air traffic controllers can get to the terminal in a short space of time. But, then again, why have the back-up centre near the terminal?

    Finally, it will not mean more passengers to Belgrade. Airlines bring passengers, not control centres. This would only be the case if there were not enough landing slots and you'd want to have a state of the art control centre that enables you to fit more aircraft in the same airspace in a shorter space of time. Somehow I don't think this is a problem at BEG.

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  4. @ Visit Kosovo:

    Thanks for the detailed response - that was my understanding as well. If it needs to be 'close' to the airport for meetings, then that means 1 or 2km away would be fine, rather than having it 200m away from the terminal infrastructure where it has been built. From where it is, I don't see how they could have a view of the gate areas, as the terminal itself would impede their view.

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  5. I agree with anonymous2 about the reason why its is placed there...Eurocontrol is behind it and they certainly know where it should be and what they are doing.
    Hopefully a new control tower to match will follow soon as well.
    The current one was ok, when it was built back in 60s, but the new one is needed in a few years time.

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  6. ^
    Why is a new tower needed? Have you been up there or have any idea?

    The only reason you would build a new tower is if the airport area has expanded and/or there have been new taxiways/runways/aprons, which there have not been at Belgrade. Alternatively, I doubt there's any issue with the technology they have inside the current tower, and if there was - the solution would be to upgrade it, not build a new tower.

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  7. But the Belgrade Airport did announce that a new runway will be installed and one of the terminals will be expanded. So in a way, a new tower might be necessary.

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  8. Maybe it's because old area control center is just across the street, so it's easier and cheaper to move all the infrastructure for just few meters than few hundreds or thousands of meters

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  9. The location of the new centre will have to do with the owner/gatekeeper of the land, and likely some palm-greasing.

    ANONYMOUS and Visit Kosovo are correct, the land would have been much better used for another purpose. As this is not exclusively for BEG airport movements, the centre could easily have been located in another location.

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