The Air Traffic Controllers European Unions Coordination (ATCEUC), representing some 14,000 controllers in the region, said it has called off a planned October 10 strike over safety issues tied to the Single European Sky program. The group said it had received assurances that the European Union is willing to discuss those safety issues before implementation.
Single European Sky
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 (EC) has reacted to the recent strikes by French air traffic controllers by speeding up what it says are long overdue improvements to the European air traffic management system.
Economic woes risk crippling Europe’s rollout schedule of a revolutionary system that could transform regional air travel because airlines are simply too wary to invest at a time of low growth.
Europe has now spent millions in developing a blueprint for a nigh-on perfect system with which to manage an eventual albeit belated explosion in the number of aircraft traveling through its congested skies.
This year is a crucial one for the modernization of Europe’s complex air traffic management (ATM) system, as it transitions from years of definition and development to initial deployment of Single European Sky (SES) systems designed to improve efficiency, save fuel and cut costs.
Few punches were pulled as speakers took on the challenges facing business aviation in Europe at the opening session of EBACE 2013 yesterday morning, with government policies, outdated infrastructure and the slack economy the primary targets.
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.
Patrick Ky, who has led the Single European Sky ATM Research (Sesar) program through its development phase, has been named executive director of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), effective September 1. Ky will succeed Patrick Goudou, who has headed the European safety authority based in Cologne, Germany, since it was created in September 2003.
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 Single European Sky ATM Research (Sesar) effort, Europe’s equivalent of NextGen in the U.S., is making progress as a research and development program “but it is not yet a successful modernization program,” according to the man directing its development phase.