SESAR may be “balkanized”, hopefully the US will learn from this divisive approach to aviation regulation

sesar aviation regulation
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How Balkanization is Hurting Europe

Lesson for US Congress to Favor National Over Local Interests

The US aviation community and Congress have frequently expressed their dismay at glacial progress of the delivery of the benefits of NextGen. The FAA is doing its best even though the US DoT IG seems capable of criticizing every aspect of the agency’s efforts to research, design, purchase and implement this extremely complex program. To make things worse, the Obama Administration has not been overly aggressive in its support {one public statement} of this vital aviation infrastructure improvement.

That said— pity the plight of the EU, EUROCONTROL, SESAR and the countries which seek to establish a Single European Skies regime. At the same that this multi-country enterprise seeks to solve the technical challenges similar to the FAA’s NextGen task, these sovereigns also are working to cede their control of the airspace over each country into a single pan European AT authority.

sesar aviation regulation

There has been some progress for the FAA and EUROCONTROL to work together, but now the major users of this airspace, IATA, appear to have prioritized the implementation of technology upgrade on a country-by-country basis rather than working with EUROCONTROL. Here are some very telling quotes from IATA’s ATC Director, Pete Curran:

  • sesar aviation regulation“It’s clear that there is a degree of nationalism evolving in Europe and working at a national level is perhaps likely to get a level of support.”
  • “We want to build a Single European Sky (SES) bottom up.”
  • European airspace was designed decades ago when no one would have dreamt of 10 million flights and 935 million passengers in a year…And while the airspace has been adjusted somewhat over the years, the airspace structure hasn’t fundamentally changed. It’s failing to achieve targets today and simply won’t manage the demand that will be forced on it in the coming years.”

sesar aviation regulation

  • Curran characterized the SES situation as one of conflict and vested interests, resulting in a lack of political willingness to make needed reforms. Service providers prefer to prevent reforms rather than prepare for them, he noted. State governments, he added, are too heavily influenced by their service providers and averse to political risk or reforms that might trigger industrial action or strikes.
  • Ground system manufacturers profit from the situation of fragmentation with more potential customers and complex system integration issues.”
  • “The European Commission is limited by the member states and lacks the tools to compel change…The SES is blocked, and a new approach is urgently needed. It’s clear that there is a degree of nationalism evolving in Europe, and working at a national level is perhaps likely to get a level of support.”
  • Curran said IATA was targeting seven countries – Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Poland and Turkey.

That sounds like a serious mess. Perhaps, the US Congress will learn how “balkanization” is hurting Europe and refrain from introducing bills which favor local over national interests (e.g. allowing the local community to close an airport, adding flights from their home state to DCA or requiring the location of some FAA facility back in her/his state or other similarly myopic proposal).

[Yes, the Balkans are not part of the EU yet; the etymology of the word “balkanize” is apt.]

 


IATA Pivots to National Airspace Strategies for EU Modernization
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