Does the FAA-EC’s Agreement on NextGen-SESAR cooperation have impact on Operators?

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Some have questioned whether Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR) and the FAA’s NextGen can or will be compatible. The EU, which sponsors the modernizing the European airspace and its ATM, and the FAA make generalizations about their respective efforts to support the International Civil Aviation Organization’s Global Air Navigation Plan, which aims to harmonize air traffic systems throughout the world. The two sovereigns have not shown an exemplary history of practical cooperation. They just announced an agreement of cooperation on these two parallel projects.

Their announcement of an extension and expansion of their Memorandum of Cooperation might best be accompanied by release of the full, actual text. The specifics are of great interest to operators in both jurisdictions.

FAA Administrator Michael Huerta and the EC’s Director General for Mobility and Transport, Mr. Joao Aguiar Machado, signed a Letter of Intent on air traffic management modernization in Paris. EU Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc (above left) is quoted as saying:

“Modernizing air traffic management is vital for the future of European aviation…We need to invest in innovation in order to improve ATM performances. This means cheaper flights, increased safety, a lower impact on the environment, and better capacity to manage traffic. We share these objectives with the U.S. We are already doing a great job with the FAA by cooperating on SESAR and NextGen. Now that we are both heading towards deploying new systems, I fully support the idea that we should explore the possibility to extend this excellent cooperation to all phases of ATM modernization. That’s the change in culture that will take global ATM systems into the future, and will help cope with the expected traffic increase.”

The extension moves the agreement forward from the original March 2011 date to an unstated date and the expansion now includes:

  • collaboration on the deployment and implementation of NextGen activities,
  • ongoing research on the interoperability of avionics, communication protocols and procedures, and
  • operational methods under NextGen and SESAR.

The highlighted text is of greatest interest to operators on both sides of the pond. For example, one of the most debated NextGen issues is the costs and value of aircraft owners buying and installing ADS-B equipment. Many would want to know whether the “agreement” would assure that an ADS-B system will be useful in airspace on both sides of the Atlantic. Further, there is a deadline for ADS-B installation in the US and a one in the EU; something other than congruent schedules for operators’ compliance would create chaos.

When sovereigns agree, disagree or partially concur, there is impact on the constituents. Releasing the full Letter of Intent would make transparent important guidance on this complex technology.

PRESS RELEASE: FAA, EU Plan to Extend, Expand NextGen Pact

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