New Route Handling 2 – A major milestone towards Virtual Centre

On the 28th of April 2020, the second phase of the New Route Handling concept, also known as NRH2, was successfully deployed in Switzerland's eastern Area Control Center. This is a major milestone for the Virtual Centre program and an important step towards the Free Route Airspace.

Traditionally, the flight trajectories displayed on the radar screens of air traffic controllers are based on the system’s interpretation of the routes filed by the pilots. This means that, with legacy systems, air traffic controllers see the route that an aircraft will most probably fly, but not always the actual route. With the New Route Handling concept (NRH) however, we get rid of the system interpretation and see the exact route filed in the pilot’s flight management system. This new capability will increase not only situational awareness for air traffic controllers, but also safety, as conflict detection will rely on actual trajectories and not on the system’s interpretation.


While the first phase of NRH aimed at laying the technical foundations for the new concept, NRH2 brings the long awaited operational benefits, as it enables more efficient traffic handling at the working positions and drives the harmonization of operational practices between Switzerland’s both Area Control Centers.


NRH is an essential piece for the entire Virtual Centre program, as it will significantly contribute to enhancing data transparency at national level as well as our ability to adapt rapidly to a volatile air traffic. As the current pandemic crisis shows, such flexibility is crucial for the future of Air Traffic Management and reinforces our belief that Virtual Centre is the right way forward.


The deployment of NRH2 under such extraordinary circumstances is an impressive demonstration of flexibility, adaptability and team work from all stakeholders involved. We will now continue our journey toward „One Sky by One System“ with NRH3 as next major milestone to bring the functionality of NRH2 to the western Area Control Center next year.