In mid-2016, DETEC gave the FOCA the mandate to reorganise Swiss airspace and its aviation infrastructure (i.e. air navigation infrastructure and aerodromes). To this end, the FOCA set up a programme called the Airspace and Aviation Infrastructure Strategy of Switzerland, or AVISTRAT-CH for short.
In spring 2022, the FOCA published the AVISTRAT-CH strategy report. This is the product of a collaborative strategy development process between government authorities and key stakeholders in the Swiss aviation sector. The strategy is presented in the above graphic in schematic form and can be viewed in the following short explanatory video as well as in detail in the strategy report under 'Documents / AVISTRAT-CH Milestones'.
Following the successful completion of the Vision and Strategy milestones, the AVISTRAT-CH programme entered the implementation phase in autumn 2023. This will proceed in a targeted and prioritised manner, with the most urgent foundational work in the 'Airport system' and 'Airspace structure and management' focus areas being initiated first. The report below on the completion of the implementation planning phase and initiation of the implementation phase provides further relevant information.
Devlopment of the Programme
Situation at the start of the programme
Swiss airspace and its aviation infrastructure is currently a complicated system that has grown over decades through numerous ad-hoc modifications. The needs of airspace users have changed considerably since the basic structure of this system was first created. Drones, for example, have recently given rise to a completely new type of use.
Various indicators, such as an increasing number of airspace violations, including those caused by overtaxed pilots, as well as increasing delays in commercial air traffic, show that the existing system no longer meets current needs.
If we were to continue with the existing system, we are convinced that there would be dramatic consequences in 20 to 30 years' time. Given the predicted growth in airspace use and the emergence of new user groups and thus new needs, it is highly likely that Skyguide will no longer be able to manage Swiss airspace both safely and efficiently.
Delays in commercial air traffic would also almost certainly rise significantly, causing serious damage to Switzerland as a business location.
The AVISTRAT-CH programme
For these reasons, DETEC has given the FOCA the mandate for AVISTRAT-CH. The aim of the programme is to reduce the risks associated with the use of Swiss airspace and to use Switzerland's scarce airspace in the most efficient way possible. A further important objective is to reduce environmental impact when developing the aviation system.
Close stakeholder cooperation
At the FOCA, we are convinced that by cooperating closely with stakeholders, the AVISTRAT-CH project will be a success. Therefore, in a first 'vision' phase of the project, the diverse needs of airspace users and aviation service providers were surveyed in a total of over 40 workshops.
With the completion of this first phase, the project management has gained a holistic overview of the needs of users. An overview of this 'Switzerland's needs landscape' was presented at the community event on 31 October 2018. On the basis of this, the vision for Switzerland's future airspace and aviation infrastructure was developed in a subsequent phase.
Vision for Switzerland's future airspace
The vision adopted at the end of 2019 paints a picture that includes all current airspace users, as well as users of the future. Thanks to a flexible architecture, new user needs and technologies will be able to be integrated much more quickly in the future. In terms of costs, the new system must also meet high standards of efficiency and transparency. Ultimately, the impact on the environment should be as low as possible.
In the next stage of the project focusing on strategy, it is now a matter of defining steps that are aligned with the vision. The aim is to develop a model for Switzerland's future airspace and aviation infrastructure system. Given the complexity and the diverse dimensions that need to be taken into account, this is a challenging task that will take some time.
Five parties have been working on the draft strategies for AVISTRAT-CH since July 2020. The participating organisations were announced in the July issue of the AVISTRAT-CH newsletter. Unfortunately, this year's community event fell victim to the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, it took place in the form of a PowerPoint presentation: the participating organisations introduced themselves in various videos and presentations they had produced and reported on their work. In addition, the core team presented the current progress of the project and provided an outlook for the coming year:
As of the end of 2019, the 'vision' stage of the project was successfully completed. There is more information on this below. At the beginning of 2020, the AVISTRAT-CH programme entered the strategy development phase, the aim of which is to translate the vision of the project into a strategy. You can find up-to-date information on the project in the July issue of the Avistrat-CH newsletter.
The following five draft strategies are presented with the kind permission of the authors as additional information. They are explicitly not part of the official AVISTRAT-CH strategy and served merely as a basis for strategy development.
Last modification 23.10.2023