April 3rd 2006 was a landmark day in the history of European Air Traffic Control. On that day the COOPANS alliance was established and signed by the partners IAA, LFV and Naviair with Thales as supplier. The alliance is open for new members and Austro Control joined in 2010 followed by Croatia Control in 2011.
The original purpose of the alliance was to upgrade and standardize the partners ATM systems into a single unified ATM system that uses common software and entails harmonized maintenance processes and operational concepts. COOPANS thereby enables the partners to cut their development costs through continuous – and from 2014 synchronic - upgrading of the ATM system. Through continuous upgrading the partners avoided the alternative, namely individual major and very costly ‘big bang’ ATM system migrations.
The idea of standardized and harmonized systems has not been generally unfold among European ANSPs. The normal is individual customized systems varying from control center to control center. This means that in general most of the European control centers (ACCs) still today operate with individually developed systems. The exemption is the 7 control centers in Ireland, Denmark, Sweden, Austria and Croatia, where the system has been fully harmonized since 2014. Following the system harmonization COOPANS is to harmonize operational and technical procedures in order to limit spe¬cific national and individual functionalities.
Besides major savings for the partners, COOPANS meets the EU’s aim concerning harmonization of ATM systems in Europe. Being a part¬ner in COOPANS thus helps the companies to meet a whole range of existing and future EU regulatory requirements in good time, including the performance requirements, and to develop in line with SESAR. COOPANS also underpins industry and ICAO requirements.
Furthermore the harmonized system in the 7 ACCs contributes to climate and environmental improvements. Harmonization eases the effort to implement actions for improved flight efficiency leading to shortening distance and flying time. This reduces fuel consumption and emission of greenhouse gasses. One example of this is implementation of Free Route Airspace.
The first system upgrade (Build 1) was rolled out in Dublin, Shannon, Malmö and Copenhagen in 2011/2012. The ATCC in Stockholm was upgraded in 2012/2013 where after IAA, Naviair and LFV were using the same software and harmonized technical solutions.
In March 2013 Austro Controls control center in Vienna and Naviairs control center in Copenhagen was upgraded to build 2.3 and by spring 2014 all 7 control centers were upgraded to build 2.4.
Since then the centers has been upgraded continuously and synchronously with new builds. Latest build in 2016 is 3.1.
Coming upgrades will also be implemented simultaneously.
In 2016 the COOPANS Alliance was awarded the Single European Sky Award at the World ATM Congress in Madrid for moving forward the harmonisation of the European ATM landscape.
In January 2017a simultaneous Upgrade of the COOPANS System to build 3.2 was performed. All seven control centers completed their upgrades to the identical software within a week.
In 2018 NAV Portugal was put on track to become the sixth member of the COOPANS Alliance.