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Single European Sky to cut aviation emissions



The EU has committed to support the implementation of the Single European Sky initiative by 2012. Effective air traffic management can cut fuel consumption and emissions by 10%.

Representatives from the EU, Member States and other countries, military authorities, Eurocontrol, the European Aviation Safety Agency, the US Federal Aviation Administration, airline users and the European aviation industry met in Madrid on 25 and 26 February 2010 to discuss implementing the Single European Sky (SES) initiative to reduce the environmental impact of flying by 10% through better use of airspace and a sky decarbonisation programme.

The conclusions of the 'Declaration of Madrid' high-level conference, organised by European Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas and Spanish transport minister José Blanco López, set 2012 as the key milestone for achieving the goal of a truly Single Europe Sky.

Launched in 2004, the SES aimed to redesign the European sky according to traffic flows rather than national borders. As part of this redesign, the EU adopted the Single Sky Package (SES II) in November 2009, which will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from aviation.

Stakeholders agreed to work towards implementing a new regulatory framework incorporating a performance-based European air traffic management (ATM) scheme. The ATM will include clear targets on issues such as safety, decarbonisation of the sky, increasing capacity and ensuring cost-efficiency.

“The time for reflection is over. Europe is paying dearly the costs of fragmentation,” says Vice-President Kallas. “We now need to act and deliver a seamless, safer, more performant sustainable single sky for Europe by 2012.”

Technology development essential

Under the Madrid Declaration, technology development is seen as essential for achieving the SES. The SES ATM Research (SESAR) programme – the technological arm of SES – is developing a modern air traffic management system for Europe, designed to improve the environmental performance of aviation.

With funding of €2.1 billion, SESAR hopes to save on average 300 to 500 kg of fuel and 948 to 1575 kg of CO2 per flight by 2020. The technology developed will enable more direct flight paths, as well as smoother descents and climbs, thereby eliminating the causes of avoidable waste. Through ATM improvements alone 10% fuel savings per flight are envisioned by 2020, which will lead to a 10% reduction in CO2 emissions.

The SES initiative and the SESAR programmes hope to abolish unnecessary extensions to the length of flights through the defragmentation of European airspace and the implementation of functional airspace blocks. By optimising air traffic management European aviation can lower emissions and reduce fuel consumption.

More information

Related information on the EcoAP Website