AMF Best Practice

The UK’s Airspace Management Function combines the resources of the Airspace Management
Cell (AMC UK) and the Strategic & Pre Tactical planning elements of UK Network Management.
Military staff (Royal Navy & Royal Air Force) is well represented in the department and are colocated with civilian colleagues at the Swanwick Centre. The AMF was first formed early in 2012,
initially as a structural change within the management hierarchy, progressing into a fully
integrated unit with enhanced capabilities, tools, methods & responsibilities. The AMF operates
Sunday through Saturday from 0800 – 1800. The AMF has a responsibility to the UK / Irish FAB &
operates in an integrated FAB environment.
The primary purpose of creating an integrated unit was to achieve the conjunction of ASM &
ATFCM functions. Although a significant step change in itself, the Strategic & Pre Tactical planning
staff is additionally tasked with a shift in emphasis from planning and briefing to also
providing NETWORK SOLUTIONS – at a strategic & pre tactical level, right up to D-1, thus reducing
the need for tactical intervention in the tactical phase of operations.
Working practices
1. Collaborative decision making
It is widely recognised throughout ATM that CDM is the key to successful operations, ensuring that
information is shared across all actors & used to inform decisions that make best use of capacity &
opportunity while mitigating against adverse factors. The AMF, by co location & by formal &
informal conferencing ensures that all members are fully informed & participate in the process.
Mandatory is the 1130 (L) pre tactical conference which involves all duty staff. This requires
detailed information relating to the next day’s operation to be exchanged followed by a 7 day look
ahead and discussions that may lead to the variation or suppression of Military activity in the
event of excessive civil demand. The output of this meeting is also used to ensure the
completeness, relevance (to the network) & accuracy of the D-1 brief that is widely circulated
before close of business at D-1.
Similarly the AMF makes extensive use of tele conferencing, not only with the Network Manager in
Brussels but with Dublin, Shannon, the Scottish Centre at Prestwick, together with participating in
the FAA conference calls each afternoon. Verbal briefs are also given daily the by Met. Office.
2. Tools, processes & data
Considerable development since the formation of the AMF has taken place, particularly in the
fields of strategic planning, post ops data collection & analysis & the dissemination of network
related data across many areas of NAT’s business & operations. Close collaboration with NATS
analysis providers & forecasters & the generation of supporting data tools has enhanced both the
quality & quantity of information available to the AMF planners.
A rolling 12 month STRATEGIC EVENT OVERVIEW is maintained to inform forthcoming significant
events & this is supplemented by the NETWORK CAPACITY OPTIMISATION PLAN (NCOP) which
aims to provide a single source for all planning information in relation to a specific event or time
period. NCOPs may be produced for a specific event such as the London Olympics. Otherwise the
AMF plans to produce a seasonal NCOP and possibly down to the level of a monthly NCOP.
Information is provided for the whole UK / Irish FAB network & aims to include details on any
strategic events or significant demand changes. The level of detail may granulate down as far as
demand graphs for individual key sectors or airfields on days where there may be an issue. Where
instances of excessive demand are identified then a statement of likely measures to be applied will
be included. These include RAD, re-route scenarios, level-cap scenarios, Danger Area activity (and
possible suppression).
The planning process is also backed up by the ATFM EVENTS PLANNER (ATEP) which is an Outlook
based diary designed to headline events notified for the next 7 days of operations. the AMF has
LARA installed on both Military & civil positions & in addition to recording Military airspace bids &
allocations can also be used by civil staff to request the variation, limitation or suppression of
military activity to maximise capacity in the event of excess demand.
The NM DASHBOARD was created after a request from the Swanwick leadership team to see
service performance data from the last 7 days and predictions for the next 7 days in a concise
single page report. The Pre-tact Strategic section of Network Management updates and sends out
the dashboard on a daily basis. Historical data includes predicted and actual delays from the past
7 days, predicted and actual NAT core tracks from the past 7 days, LAC staffing for the last 7 days.
Predictions include NAT east and westbound predictions up to D-5, delays predictions (capacity
and staffing ) up to D-7 and LAC staffing outlook up to D-1.
The PRE TACTICAL BRIEF is a long established & widely recognised output of the AMF & pre dates
the formation of the AMF by several years. Despite this the brief is the subject of continuous
development & improvement& is specifically designed to ensure consistency of presentation as
well as providing a comprehensive overview of the D-1 planning activity.
POST OPS data is collected on a daily basis and entered into a single tool (the ATEP calendar)
The AMF intends to enter the post ops data into a different tool in the future which would make
the information easier to access and searchable using keywords. Currently sources of post ops
data include: daily conversations with Ops Supervisor, Network Manager, written reports from
NM, Ops Sup, LAS and AMC. When a significant event occurs a Post Ops report will be written to
inform our internal customers. Post Ops is an area of significant development within NATS and
strengthening our post-ops capability will enhance our Strategic and Pretact planning.
MILITARY ACTIVITY: In addition to the normal Airspace Management activities, the AMC is
responsible for ensuring that all military activity, properly quantified, is understood & managed
within both the strategic & pre-tactical processes.
WEEKLY MDA PLAN: Although LARA is deployed within the AMF Military units currently submit
airspace bids by email, fax, phone call etc. In addition to being input into LARA these are
consolidated into a single weekly sheet to give a complete picture of planned activity.
AOs PRE BRIEF: From the above plan, a high level extract is issued by AMC UK to advise of
significant activity expected within the MDAs during the coming week.
The fulfilment of Military requirements, while balancing airspace use with network demand &
capacity has resulted in an increasing volume of complex activation options, scenarios & protocols
for the Managed Danger areas, requiring particular attention to detail in the ASM & related pre
tactical processes but this environment does allow greater freedom & flexibility to accommodate
excessive civil demand while reducing the need for absolute suppression of Military areas.
Ensuring these are correctly chosen, executed & promulgated is essential to ensure full
assessment of impact takes place & features within subsequent network plans.
Military staff embedded within the AMC now routinely call all active units at 1600 L D-1 to confirm
that the planned activities for the next day are still proceeding. This call will be supplemented with
up to date weather advice to inform the squadron’s decision. Obtaining
a “final” go / no go decision at this stage enables network plans to be adjusted in good time &
increases the number of conditional routes available for flight planning purposes.
The key to the future will be the harmonisation & integration of planning, assessment & reporting
tools together with the facility to generate effective scenarios in the planning process – to
determine the optimal, demand / capacity based network solution, in the pre tactical phase to
reduce tactical intervention & workload, improve predictability, network stability & flight
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