Eurocontrol’s Director General warns of major delays
Governance includes 41 sovereigns
Current patchwork sectors and different charges
FAA and NextGen not so bad
Complaints about the US Air Traffic Control system, its inefficiencies, costs and governance have been major headlines in the aviation trade press for years. Congress devoted substantial time to debate privatization, in particular governance. A further issue is the slow progress of NextGen’s implementation.
It is instructive to read about the situation in Europe on the same issues; this AINonline article provides that insight:
“The recent stark warning from Eurocontrol director general Eamonn Brennan that the continent’s air traffic system is close to “hitting a wall” appeared validated by data for February—typically a quiet time of year—revealing a sharp increase in delays on the year-ago period. Traffic last month rose by 3 percent compared with February 2018, but air traffic flow management (ATFM) delays increased 28.3 percent—to an average of about 26,000 minutes per day. Total en-route ATFM delays in February saw a 46.6 percent hike, and airport ATFM delays rose by 15.8 percent compared with February 2018, according to figures released by Eurocontrol.…
[the article lists many statistics which define the extent of the problem.]
To tackle Europe’s ever-growing ATM capacity shortages and airspace inefficiencies,
including the lack of the implementation of the Single European Sky (SES), leaders of Airlines for Europe (A4E), the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO), the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA), Eurocontrol, and the European Travel Commission (ETC) last fall joined to sign what they call an “Efficient Airspace” declaration. Measures of the Declaration to go into place by the start of the 2019 summer schedule, A4E said, include a strengthened coordinated approach by the Eurocontrol Network Manager to address restrictions, civil/military cooperation, and unplanned events. The Eurocontrol Network Manager will also implement “enhanced” measures to balance air traffic capacity with demand across the network, following input by airlines and in cooperation with CANSO member ANSPs.
Governance may have been (will be?) a major problem with ATC privatization. EUROCONTROL and SES face sovereigns as their Board of Directors—41 representatives from countries own the airspace within their borders.
The issue is compounded by the fact that each separate airspace charges different rates for the aircraft which flow their control-
[NOTE: these variations in prices (a) cause some flight plans to be filed to minimize costs and/or (b) sway the revenues for individual ANSPs though their personnel costs are fixed.]
The management of the operations and technology involves civil servants from all (most of the members) and are organized into a dispersed authority matrix. The chart alone allows one to imagine that the bureaucratic battles which are likely to occur. A budget of € 505.8 million and 1,945 employees (not include the ANSPs controllers and management).
The contentious debate of the future of NextGen now seems minor compared to the path of Europe to the same goal. Technology development and implementation are tough on both continents, but as nasty as the privatization debate was in Congress, Europe has even greater governance issues.
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