For pilots, the Single European Sky (SES) means a new concept of operations, new rules and a big wave of changes. The first package kicked off this process and now a second package (SES II) has entered the legislative process in the European Parliament and Council of Ministers, closely monitored by ECA. The EU's ambitious aim is to adopt the SES II package by early 2009 at the latest.
The main problem with SES is that issues such as military involvement, airport bottle necks (lack of tarmac) and a satisfactory safety framework are still under Member State control. These sovereign issues are not easily solved at EU level and by the SESAR master plan.
The 2nd Package, an ambitious plan on ATM performance, the transfer of competences for ATM/airports to EASA, and on airport capacity, has the general support of the aviation industry. There are still major obstacles to be overcome such as financing for deployment of new equipment, inclusion of key actors, clarification of governance issues and the lack of "just culture".
ECA welcomes the Single European Sky. It promises safer skies, harmonised rules and interoperable equipment in Europe. But to safeguard these objectives, ECA is working hard to ensure a number of issues are clarified. First, ECA wants the EU to adopt all the ICAO key performance indicators to avoid lack of global harmonisation and increased fragmentation in Europe.
Further, in the next 10 years, pilots will have to operate planes differently. Increased use of datalinks, deployment of new surveillance technologies and the introduction of airborne separation assistance systems (ASAS) will bring new procedures. However, there has been no proper address of change management and there needs to be proper inclusion of pilots in the process. To date, there is also no industry-coordinated approach to the pending change of the operational concept and no communication efforts from the Commission to prepare personnel and to address this evolution gently. This is badly needed to avoid SES II faltering at the starting block.
The new SES II system has to be safe. The industry still does not have reliable safety indicators and targets, because current legislation (EU Occurrence Reporting Directive 2003/42 -Article 8.3) does not provide sufficient protection to the reporter of safety-relevant occurrences. The Commission needs to urgently tackle the issue of "just culture" through a dialogue with the judiciary. This should facilitate the definition of a legal framework that will enable reporting, create data to facilitate safety and inspire confidence that we are indeed in control of the safety of our aviation system.