EC HAS DUAL DEMANDING CHALLENGES OF CONSOLIDATING SOVEREIGN AIRSPACES AND OF ASSURING SESAR’S EFFICIENCY GOALS ARE MET

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ARTICLE: EC Acts To Reverse Single European Sky Failure

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The news from Europe has a reoccurring theme—the EC is seeking consolidation of the sovereign safety authorities and of the airspace. As to the ATC function, the European Commission has announced legislation to accelerate implementation of the Single European Sky (SES) program. At the same time, national governments that have not met the Eurocontrol goals for integration, have been put on notice that they face legal action for their failure.

EC transport commissioner, Siim Kallas, acknowledged that “We have fallen seriously behind in our original ambitions. After more than ten years, the core problems remain the same: too little capacity generating the potential for a negative impact on safety at too high a price… There is too much national fragmentation. Promised improvements have not materialized.” The same source did not support the proposition that consolidation would translate into greater efficiency in operations or cost; “At the moment it is clear that [functional airspace blocks] will make little if any contribution towards an integrated and defragmented airspace.” Kallas noted that existing inefficiencies in the continental airspace cost the airlines at least $6.4 billion annually.

The user segment (European Regions Airline Association, the European Low Fares Airline Association, the International Air Carrier Association and the European Business Aviation Association) supported the EC’s drive toward a single airspace control. They pointed out that the SES rules have cost them $40 billion in new equipment investments, but there have been no appreciable benefits from these uniform instrument rules.

Sounds like SESAR has some of the same criticisms as NextGen about capital investment in assets that “are forecast” to produce benefits with less than satisfactory evidence that will meet operational expectations. Management of technology against a future efficiency standard is very difficult; EUROCONTROL has the unenviable task of guiding SESAR’s systems enhancement at the same time trying to draw together the aeropolitical issues in consolidating Europe’s fragmented airspace into a single body.

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