Over the period from April 20 through June 1, 2019, the air traffic controllers in the control towers at Schiphol Airport successfully started using the Electronic Flight Strips (EFS). In the first weekend of the introductory period, the system went through technical acceptance. In the weeks that followed, all the tower controllers (about 150 people) acclimated to the new operational work environment, the new way of working, and the change in how the various officials in the control tower coordinate with each other. As a result, the transition process was completed safely and successfully. Moreover, it represents an important step towards modernization and digitalization of the air traffic control towers at Schiphol Airport.
Not only is the control tower less hectic thanks to EFS, now that the hand-off of paper flight strips has been eliminated, but the new system also provides a foundation for further innovations, such as extra safety nets and the option of integrating new technologies. The implementation of EFS is one of the biggest changes in the ATC towers that Air Traffic Control The Netherlands (LVNL) has ever seen.
A number of measures were put in place to ensure that the transition would take place in a safe, controlled process; these included scheduling extra staff to be on duty, taking steps to limit the volume of air traffic, and giving precedence to runway combinations that are not dependent on each other in terms of planning and use. The preferential use of non-dependent runway combinations coincided in part with planned work on a runway near the 24/06 (Kaagbaan) combination. We made every effort to minimize the inconvenience wherever possible – for the surrounding area, for the airlines, and for the passengers. We are aware that this placed major demands on the local community, and that some people did perceive some degree of inconvenience. That also applies to the airlines and passengers at Schiphol Airport: in recent weeks, they have had to deal with capacity limitations and possible delays. Now that the transition period is behind us, there are no longer any limitations on runway use based on EFS. The renovations in the ATC tower at Schiphol-Centrum are moving into the final stage. The last new workstations in the inner ring are expected to be completed by the end of June.
For more information about the renovation of the tower and the introduction of EFS, check out this video and the previous information (Dutch only) provided about the tower renovations. For additional questions regarding the renovations of the air traffic control tower and the introduction of EFS, please contact [email protected].