BULATSA - Avi­a­tion's re­li­able part­ner

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What is BULATSA's role in the wider air traf­fic pic­ture and what are the main pri­or­i­ties in its work?

Our job is very spe­cific – we are re­spon­si­ble for the safe and reg­u­lar flights in Bulgaria's airspace and over parts of the Black Sea. Our air traf­fic con­trollers main­tain con­stant con­tact with the pilots, giv­ing them in­struc­tions about a flight's di­rec­tion, al­ti­tude or speed, so that each air­craft re­mains at a safe dis­tance from the other and from the ground. This is a com­plex ac­tiv­ity, we work in change­able weather con­di­tions, high traf­fic den­sity, mil­i­tary ex­er­cises, etc.

At first glance, the sky is lim­it­less but in fact analy­ses show that flights in Europe will face in­creas­ing dif­fi­cul­ties as the ca­pac­ity of the airspace and the ma­jor air­ports is be­ing filled up. That's why one of our pri­or­i­ties is to cre­ate ca­pac­ity to ser­vice a greater num­ber of flights. We are re­spon­si­ble for the so called airspace de­sign which de­ter­mines the route net­work, the com­pli­ance with the stan­dards for a safe dis­tance be­tween civil and mil­i­tary air-craft, as well as for a safe over­flight of ground ob­sta­cles. The most im­por­tant as­set in the sys­tem are the highly qual­i­fied air traf­fic con­trollers who en­sure the func­tion­ing of this or­derly struc­ture, cer­tainly with the sup­port of mod­ern tech­nol­ogy. All these el­e­ments are key to ca­pac­ity and our main ef­forts are di­rected at pro­vid­ing con­di­tions for fu­ture growth.

Did the global eco­nomic cri­sis cool down your ex­pec­ta­tions for growth in avi­a­tion or are we go­ing to wit­ness a sta­ble up­trend nev­er­the­less?

Air trans­port is be­com­ing more ac­ces­si­ble and a nec­es­sary way of life in the mod­ern world. The num­ber of peo­ple who opt for air travel as a means of trans­port is con­stantly on the rise. The eco­nomic cri­sis brought a brief de­cline in the num­ber of op­er­ated flights but that has long been in the past. Over the last few years, we have been wit­ness­ing a steady growth trend as a re­sult of an in­crease in pas­sen­gers to and from Turkey, the Mid­dle East and Asia. The flights that con­nect these re­gions with Western Europe pass through Bulgaria's airspace. An­other im­por­tant fac­tor are the mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions in Ukraine, which led to a large num­ber of flights be­ing rerouted to fly via Bul­gar­ian airspace. Spe­cial mea­sures are re­quired to or­ga­nize the peo­ple and the airspace in such a man­ner so as to safely han­dle

the cur­rent lev­els of air traf­fic.

How do you cope with these chal­lenges?

We strive to con­tin­u­ously im­prove the cor­po­rate environment and work­ing con­di­tions. I re­ally see hav­ing the best peo­ple as key here. And we are con­stantly send­ing the mes­sage that we are ex­pect­ing bright young in­di­vid­u­als to come and work for BULATSA.

Fur­ther­more, we are im­ple­ment­ing a largescale pro­gramme to in­tro­duce the most ad­vanced tech­nolo­gies avail­able on the global mar­ket. In 2015 we will com­plete the lat­est up­date of the au­to­mated air traf­fic man­age­ment sys­tem that will al­low send­ing text mes­sages to air­craft via data link and re­ceiv­ing real-time flight data such as al­ti­tude, speed, etc from the air­borne sys­tems. In 2012, a new traf­fic con­trol tower was put into op­er­a­tion and in 2015 we are in­tro­duc­ing an ad­vanced sur­face move­ment guid­ance and con­trol sys­tem for air­craft at Sofia air­port. We are also in the process of com­mis­sion­ing state-of-the-art air traf­fic con­trol radars and up­grad­ing the air com­mu­ni­ca­tion and nav­i­ga­tion equip­ment.

What are your medium-term goals?

To­day, BULATSA is one of the most ef­fi­cient air nav­i­ga­tion ser­vice providers in Europe with a clear vi­sion for devel­op­ment. Part­ner­ship with our Ro­ma­nian col­leagues within the DANUBE FAB func­tional airspace block is of key value for us. We ap­pre­ci­ate the im­por­tance of our par­tic­i­pa­tion in the SESAR pro­gramme of the EU for the in­tro­duc­tion of fu­ture stan­dards for tech­no­log­i­cal equip­ment. We are a leader in the avi­a­tion sec­tor in Bulgaria and an em­ployer pro­vid­ing ca­reer devel­op­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties to the best young pro­fes­sion­als on the coun­try's labour mar­ket. We in­vest ex­cep­tional re­sources and at­ten­tion in train­ing new air traf­fic con­trollers. The pro­cesses of se­lec­tion and train­ing are very de­mand­ing and a good deal of ef­fort is re­quired to meet the cri­te­ria for ob­tain­ing an air traf­fic con­troller li­cence. By all means, the sub­se­quent suc­cess is ex­tremely mo­ti­vat­ing.

Ge­orgi Peev, BULATSA Di­rec­tor Gen­eral

The Bul­gar­ian Air Traf­fic Ser­vices Au­thor­ity, BULATSA, es­tab­lished in 1969, pro­vides air traf­fic man­age­ment and air nav­i­ga­tion ser­vices to en­able the safe, ef­fi­cient and ex­pe­di­tious flow of traf­fic in the coun­try’s airspace. BULATSA (www.bulatsa.com) is also in charge of the pro­vi­sion, main­te­nance and op­er­a­tion of the rel­e­vant sys­tems and equip­ment to en­sure the com­mu­ni­ca­tions, nav­i­ga­tion, sur­veil­lance, me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal and aero­nau­ti­cal as­pects of air traf­fic man­age­ment and its sup­port­ing in­fra­struc­ture.

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