What is a CTOT?
When business flights to Europe pick up and commercial flights resume back to their pre-COVID levels, delays due to an assigned CTOT will unfortunately be part of the conversation. Calculated Take-Off Times (CTOTs) are issued 2 hours prior to your filed departure time by Eurocontrol’s Central Flow Management Unit. It is an assigned takeoff time with a tolerance of -5 to +10 minutes during which your flight is expected to depart. Messages indicating the time are sent to the filing originator address and will typically come in the form of Slot Allocation Messages (SAMs), Slot Revision Messages (SRMs), and Flight Suspensions (FLS).
Your CTOT delay can range from a few minutes to several hours, or even worse can lead to the suspension of your flight plan. CTOTs can be caused by weather, airway/airspace closures, strikes, aerodrome capacity, and many other variables. As an ARINCDirect customer, though, you can count on the Flight Coordinators staffed 24/7 to monitor communications related to your flights and mitigate any incurred delays.
Delay mitigation starts with being informed. The Eurocontrol Public NOP (Network Operations Portal) will be one of your best resources prior to your flight. Delays, airspace info, and other pertinent information is highlighted in the top center of the page in the Network News section. On the ARINCDirect flight planning page, you have access to the latest Eurocontrol Network Plan when you select a European departure or destination airport. A link to the Network Plan will appear just above the tail and contains information regarding airspace closures, planned military activity, and weather.
File Early and Check the Box
Eurocontrol operates on a first-come, first-served basis and, as a result, filing the night before your flight is a good practice that can help mitigate potential delays. When you file your flight plan via the ARINCDirect website be sure to also add your email to the EDCT/CTOT Notification section or check the box to send CTOTs to the same emails as your filing confirmation. This will send automated alerts to you when a CTOT has been assigned or revised and will also indicate the reason for the delay. CTOTs can change frequently and it’s not uncommon to receive multiple revisions in the hour before your flight. Check your email often when you are within 2 hours of your filed ETD.