Volume 15 | Thursday, October 1st, 2020
European CTOTs
It’s two hours prior to your flight and you’re making final preparations. The aircraft is ready to go and your passenger’s meeting is scheduled to finish on time. You check the weather at your destination on your ARINCDirect iPad App and conditions are VFR, things are looking up. Just when your pre-flight plan was falling into place, you see the handler running towards the aircraft with an urgent message informing you of a 1-hour delay to your flight. Another day in Eurocontrol airspace. 
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. 

Be Prepared

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.
Stay on Schedule and be REAdy

Adjustments to your ETD can have a negative impact on your CTOT and trying to “play the system” could lead to negative consequences. Moving up your filed ETD requires your flight plan to be canceled, then refiled with Eurocontrol. Doing so will put your flight’s priority at the back of the pack and susceptible to the longest delays. While your passengers may ask you to leave 30 minutes early it may be best to check with your handler or the local tower to see if they have any insight into whether a longer delay will be applied to your flight. 

If you’re in the aircraft and ready to go, try coordinating with the tower to send a Ready to Depart Message (REA) on your behalf. By definition the REA message can only be sent 15 minutes prior to your CTOT time, however it’s possible the tower may be able to secure an earlier departure time, depending on availability. Be aware that missing your slot time can lead to additional delays for the flight so ensure that your crew and your passengers are aware of the importance of maintaining a tight schedule. 

Flying to Europe can be a painless experience with preparation, knowledge, and wise use of your resources. Working closely with your ARINCDirect Flight Coordinators or trip support provider will help ensure your next mission is a success. 
Did you know?
  • Did you know that you can freeze your CTOT and prevent the time from improving? By default, Eurocontrol will send improvements to your CTOT, if any are available. While you are not able to prevent additional delays from being added, you can freeze the CTOT and prevent improvements if that meets your needs. Ask your handler or an ARINCDirect Flight Coordinator to send a Slot Improvement Proposal - Slot Wanted Message (SIP-SWM) on your behalf.
Useful Links:
  • The public version of Eurocontrol’s Network Operations Portal can be found by visiting this link
Thank you!
We want to invite you to take another tour of our upcoming webinar training events to rekindle your knowledge of new features and some existing features. Feel free to join us online and register for these sessions listed on the ARINCDirect Help and Training page.