Technology & innovation

Operational Reference Models 

The project that forecasts the operational needs and air traffic sector occupation levels for future traffic periods.

Operational Reference Models project

The need for planning in air traffic control facilities has become a top priority, aimed at responding (through adaptation of technical and human resources) to the increase in air traffic demand that occurs season after season, as well as to forecast possible problems that may appear due to air traffic sector saturation.

To achieve these objectives, Operational Reference Models have been created. This system, through a standardised and systematised process, provides a forecast of the operational configurations that will be required every day and every month in any future air traffic period, as well as the anticipated air traffic sector occupation levels for that period.


The objectives achieved with this tool are:

  • Provide appropriate operational models for the predicted air traffic.
  • Determine sectors that may possibly become saturated during the period analysed.
  • Evaluate new sectorisations before they are put into service.


The methodology of the process is based on three basic areas of study, which to a large extent may be used for other studies:

  • Statistic analysis of air traffic demand, which makes it possible to establish standard weeks of traffic within a period, as well as the anticipated traffic increases for that period.
  • Evaluation of the occupation levels in air traffic sectors.
  • Optimisation of the use of the models during each shift within the control facilities, taking into account their operational restrictions.


Processing this information provides a wide variety of data, which are analysed by a group of ATM experts, in the form of:

  • Weekly statistics of the figures recorded in traffic control facilities since records have been kept.
  • Standard Week of every month for a particular period and control facility.
  • Predicted traffic increases  for the control facilities.
  • Demand/capability ratio for the sectors.


Application of Operational Reference Models provides clear benefits for air traffic control facilities management:

  • Adaptation of the human resources at the control facilities to the anticipated operational needs arising from increased air traffic.
  • Anticipation of possible control sector saturation.
  • Support for decision-making concerning airspace management.


Aeronautical information updates:

More innovations >
New Window ENAIRE eGovernment