Free-route airspace concept in the ASEAN region

1 July 2023

Operational Feasibility Assessment of the Free Route Airspace Concept in the ASEAN Region
K Tominaga, ACK Wen, J Sultana, M Schultz, E Itoh, VN Duong. ATRS World Conference 2023

Free Route Airspace (FRA) allows airspace users to freely plan a route in en-route airspaces within certain restrictions, and it is anticipated that the FRA offers the benefit of fuel saving and flexibility. In this paper, the benefits and operational feasibility of the Free Route Airspace concept within the ASEAN consisting 12 Flight Information Regions (FIRs) are evaluated using fast-time simulation. We simulated approximately 10.000 flights per day for 15 days (or double the volume of it) for two routing scenarios (conventional Air Traffic Services airways rules vs. FRA rules). Results showed that traffic efficiency metrics are fewer in FRA than in the conventional rules via Air Traffic Services airways, with approximately 2 % improvement in fuel burn, flight duration, and flown distance. The number of potential conflicts, an operational feasibility metric, was fewer in FRA. When zooming into individual FIRs, we found that local FRA routing rules could be added to avoid a cluster of conflicts. This study presents one of the first systematic benefits and operational feasibility studies of FRA in the Southeast Asia region. All results considered, this study presents an initial confirmation and prospect for the application of the FRA concept in the region.