Parliament and Ministers give a "Thumbs Up" to the 2nd Package of Single European Sky legislation!

As European Parliament elections loom and the change of the college of Commissioners becomes imminent, there was a sense of urgency to approving the SES II Regulation package in the Council of Ministers and the current Parliament. The SES II package was 'rushed' through the Parliament's approval process and notwithstanding the tight deadlines, it was endorsed. The national transport ministers followed on 30 March by confirming their political agreement at the Transport Council.

This package reinforces the Single European Sky, making the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) responsible for the safety of the total aviation chain and boosting the implementation of new technologies. These measures will also save the airlines around 4 billion Euros. Furthermore, the adoption of the ATM Master Plan provides an ambitious work programme for Europe to lead global innovation in ATM.

Specifically, the SES II package now provides binding performance targets for air navigation service providers, a European network management function and further integration of air navigation service providers (known as Functional Airspace Blocks). Also, EASA will have to ensure that common safety rules are applied in all phases of flight.

Airport capacity issues will be tackled addressing runway shortages, better coordination of airport slots with ATM as well as looking at how to fully integrate airports in the aviation network. Environmental issues are now placed at the core of the ATM system with a target to reduce greenhouse emissions by ten percent, saving 2.4 billion Euros/year for airspace users. However, perhaps the most interesting new development is the statement, annexed to the SESII Regulation, to involve staff in the implementation of the package, including measures to improve incident reporting mechanisms.

For pilots, SES II means that in the next 10 years there will be changes to the operation. Increased use of datalinks, deployment of new surveillance technologies and the introduction of airborne separation assistance systems (ASAS) will bring new procedures. This all means significant change, which needs to be carefully managed through a coordinated industry/institutional approach.

ECA welcomes this new Regulation. It promises safer skies, harmonised rules and interoperable equipment in Europe and beyond. ECA has repeatedly underlined the importance of the EU adopting all the ICAO key performance indicators to avoid lack of global harmonisation and increased fragmentation. But above all, in Europe, reliable safety indicators and targets are missing. Europe needs to create robust legislation protecting reporters and information in order to achieve a safe system. ECA will address this issue with vigour over the coming years.