The Pan European Network Service (PENS) is now the operational network for the exchange of coordination messages between the Maastricht Upper Area Centre (MUAC) in the Netherlands and NATS’ Swanwick Center in the UK, according to Eurocontrol.

PENS allows the exchange of flight information data securely and efficiently using Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6), as required by the European Commission’s Flight Message Transfer Protocol (FMTP) Implementing Rule.

These information exchanges, which include the notification, coordination and transfer of flights as well as civil-military coordination, need “appropriate and harmonized communication protocols to secure their interoperability—and PENS provides this service,” Eurocontrol said.

The PENS initiative is led jointly by air navigation service providers and Eurocontrol to provide a common IP-based network service across the European region for both voice and data air traffic management (ATM) communications. It has been operational for Eurocontrol services since the end of 2009, providing high-availability IP services to the Eurocontrol European AIS Database (EAD) and the Network Manager’s network for Flow Management Position (FMP) data exchange.

PENS also supports SESAR validation over the SESAR Virtual Private Network (VPN) and so is paving the way to becoming the backbone of the System Wide Information Management.

Commenting on this first-ever FMTP implementation over IPv6 on PENS, Manuel Garcia, head of the Ground/Ground Communications Team at Spain’s AENA and chairman of the PENS Steering Group said: “PENS is demonstrating that it is able to meet the very demanding communication requirements of ATM applications across Europe—and does so in compliance with the European regulation associated with the implementation of the Single European Sky concept.”