Air navigation service providers (ANSPs) from 10 Eastern and Central European countries signed a cooperation agreement earlier this month to create a regional entity with a stronger voice in Europe’s air traffic management decision-making process. The association covers airspace managed by three smaller groupings of adjoining countries known as functional airspace blocks (FABs), in this case the Baltic, Danube and Central Europe FABs.
Functional Airspace Block
European controllers have scrapped plans for a strike on October 10 to protest draft amendments to Single European Sky (SES) regulations that would expedite the restructuring of the continent’s ATC network.
The European Commission is taking to task the vast majority of its 27 nation states for their lack of progress in forging the Single European Sky through a program to unify regional airspace.
Inefficiencies caused by Europe’s fragmented airspace generate extra costs of close to €5 billion each year, adding 42 kilometers (27 miles) to the distance of an average flight, and forcing aircraft to burn more fuel, generate more emissions, pay more in user charges and incur delays. The U.S. controls the same amount of airspace, with more traffic, at almost half the cost.
European Commissioner for Transport Siim Kallas admitted to excessively slow progress on the Single European Sky (SES) last week and characterized Russia’s continued charges for Siberian overflights as unacceptable. He has threatening European Union member states with legal action over their failure to carry out their respective SES responsibilities. Separately, he is planning a March 21 meeting in Moscow to pressure Russian authorities to address what he views as “unfair” overflight fees.
The new director general of Europe’s intergovernmental ATC organization proposes that air navigation service providers (ANSPs) implement Single European Sky improvements at the regional level rather than as individual entities, both to constrain costs and improve operational efficiency.
European Union member states failed to meet a December 4 deadline to begin operating regional air traffic management blocks as required by Single European Sky (SES) regulations dating to March 2004. Airline trade groups joined in condemning the states over the missed deadline.
The European Commission (EC) plans to propose new legislation to accelerate implementation of the Single European Sky (SES) program and is threatening legal action against national governments that have failed to fulfill their obligations to the far-reaching air traffic management (ATM) reorganization. In an October 11 speech in Cyprus, EC transport commissioner Siim Kallas acknowledged that SES “is not delivering” on its goals of halving ATM costs while tripling airspace capacity.
The reality is pretty obvious: managing fewer flights can only help European air traffic control meet the tough targets that were designed to prepare it for a wholesale transformation to a radical space-based regime. The latest statistics show that Europe-wide, the en-route delay in 2012 is now 0.45 minutes per flight–well down from the figure last year of 1.1 minutes and already lower than the 0.5 minutes target for 2014.
The annual ATC Global conference and exhibition, held earlier this month in Amsterdam, attempted to bring into sharper focus the vision of a Single European Sky (SES).
The Association of European Airlines (AEA), the European Low Fares Airline Association (ELFAA), the European Regions Airline Association (ERA) and the International Air Carrier Association (IACA) have jointly issued a plea to EU member states “to stop procrastinating” on the Single European Sky project “and finally
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