The European Commission is driving full steam ahead with the modernization of Air Traffic Management in Europe. Over the last five years they have created the European Aviation Safety Agency, developed the first package of the Single European Sky (SES), and launched a sixty million "SESAR" project to define the Master Plan for the new European sky. Now, the Commission is set to approve the "second package" of the Single European Sky which will have far-reaching consequences for European aviation and the way pilots fit into the future system.
The aim of the second package is to ensure a more sustainable and better performing system. This brings with it a number of tough challenges. The Aviation sector needs to control the growth in greenhouse gas emissions while still enabling traffic growth. There needs to be an increase in safety, flight efficiency, capacity and cost efficiency while decreasing delays and route extensions.
Next up, the future, modernized ATM system is to provide benefits to the airspace users, i.e. the airlines (one of the main investors in the new system): not only should duplication of systems and uncoordinated procurement be eradicated but also support, maintenance and contingency costs need to be reduced. And if all that is not enough, the biggest challenge is still for the safety regulators to keep up with the growth and ensure a single safety framework!
The Commission ensures us that a successful Single European Sky is still achievable and that there are solutions to all these challenges. They have designed the new package around four pillars:
- performance (amending the four original SES regulations),
- technology (to endorse the SESAR Master Plan),
- safety (to empower EASA to cover all links of the aviation safety chain) and
- airport capacity (to deal with both air and ground capacity).
ECA has been involved in the Single European Sky process as it has evolved over the years. We have proactively represented the views of the profession to the European decision-makers, in close cooperation with the air traffic controllers and the air traffic engineers. The final text of the second package has not yet been published but we are hopeful that the Commission has understood our concerns and will ensure they are reflected in the final package.
Our main request has been to be included - at a technical level - in the future process which will involve a difficult change process for front-end actors, such as pilots. ECA will continue to follow closely the legislative process for the proposed package when the four elements are presented to the European Council of Ministers and the European Parliament.