Improving airspace in Latin America-Caribbean


New initiatives will further the efficiency of airspace in Latin America-Caribbean.

The optimisation of airspace in the Latin America-Caribbean (LAC) region has been high on the agenda for many years.

The CANSO ATFM Data Exchange Network for the Americas (CADENA) has been the foundation for much of the work. CADENA allows partners throughout the aviation value chain to share vital data and common situational awareness, enabling such concepts as air traffic flow management (ATFM) to be enacted.

The CADENA Operational Information System was introduced in August 2017 and has been the bedrock for an array of improvements. Airspace users in the region have benefitted from enhanced safety, efficiency, cost-effectiveness and sustainability.

The latest set of initiatives are underway with end-to-end route optimisation top of the agenda. Airlines have been allowed to fly selected Planned Airway System Alternatives (PASA). This is being done under the auspices of the CANSO-IATA-ICAO Free Route Airspace (CIIFRA) project. Trials were run for 90 days in the second half of 2021 and involved one aircraft from one airline.

The headline figures show that operational savings for airlines amounted to some $2 million and more than 3 million KG of CO2 was averted.

A detailed look at one of the routes shows how each airspace user can benefit. Over 90 days, a route between Atlanta and Lima saved the airline more than 500 flight minutes or close to 150,000lbs of fuel. That equates to a 200,000kg reduction in CO2 and almost $100,000 in cost savings.

“The development and execution of the CIIFRA project shows that any change, big or small, can bring extraordinary results,” says Javier Vanegas, CANSO’s Director of Latin America and Caribbean Affairs. “The savings and CO2 reduction we’ve seen so far are remarkable and demonstrate the aviation community’s commitment to a sustainable industry.

“The success of the trials has encouraged other airlines to submit more optimised proposals for testing and the CIIFRA project team is now working with states and ANSPs to publish the already tested optimised routes within their aeronautical information publications (AIP). We are encouraged by these developments and sharing knowledge and developing best practices always makes our industry stronger.”

The success of the trials has persuaded all involved to extend them by one year. One route has even been published in an aeronautical information circular (AIC), meaning all airlines can use the airway. And the CIIFRA project is now part of the ICAO North America, Central America and Caribbean (NACC) Optimisation task force. The ultimate goal is free route airspace across the entire region.

Latin America and Caribbean