European Research Commissioner
Janez Potočnik and senior Eurocontrol officials are meeting in Brussels
today to discuss the needs for future air traffic management research
in the next European research framework programme (2007-2013). The
Commission is proposing the allocation of significant resources
from the Seventh Framework Programme for the research component
of a full scale Europe-wide Air Traffic Management system that will
support the Commission’s Single European Sky Initiative. Sound
air traffic management is a major element in ensuring the continued
safety of Europe’s air travellers.
“It is clear that for the rapid growth
in air travel to be safe, a drastic change in the way traffic is
managed in the skies above Europe must take place”, said
European Commissioner for Science and Research, Janez Potočnik.
“So we need to invest in the technologies that will make
this happen. More research investment in the future will give us
the opportunity to leap forward in this critical area.”
The European Commission, in cooperation with Eurocontrol,
the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation, is already
making strides in improving air traffic safety in Europe. In fact
80% of current European Air Traffic management (ATM) research is
funded by collaborative Eurocontrol - European Commission activities.
However, despite exponential increases in air traffic over the past
decade, annual European technology investment in this area has been
relatively stable since 1996. In the current Commission research
framework programme (2002-2006), €150m has been set aside to
fund ATM research. The Commission and Eurocontrol are currently
working together in a number of areas to help increase air safety.
- The OPTIMAL project, developing innovative procedures for safer
approach and landing of aircraft at airports that are increasingly
capacity constrained and in low visibility conditions.
- The MA-AFAS project, developing ways to help planes to, in effect,
talk to each other so that pressure can be taken off the already
overwhelmed air traffic control systems, thus increasing the autonomy
of individual aircraft.
While current research is finding ways to cope safely
in the today’s fragmented air traffic system, it is not enough,
especially in view of the Single European Sky initiative which will
lead to a fundamental change in ATM in Europe. A future single European
Air Traffic Management infrastructure, called SESAME, has been proposed
by Vice-President Barrot, Commissioner for Transport. SeESAME would
fully coordinate airspace users, operators and the supply industry
and bring together the regulatory framework, funding sources, and
implementing actors across Europe.
ACARE, the Advisory Council for Aeronautics Research
in Europe, has proposed in its “Strategic Research Agenda”
that SESAME’s research component be supported in the Commission’s
next research framework programme (FP7).
The European Commission became a member of Eurocontrol
in 2002. The signature of a Memorandum of Co-operation between the
EC and Eurocontrol took place in 2003. It aims at enhancing co-operation
in five areas, including the implementation of the Single European
Sky and R&D. The European Commission has also mandated Eurocontrol
to implement functions and define operational concepts on its behalf.
The Single European Sky will fundamentally change
Air Traffic Management in Europe. There will be a clearer definition
of the roles of the different actors, including regulators, providers
and the supply industry in implementing an “overall quality
process” leading to “certification”, where the
new European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) will take the lead in
developing a European infrastructure (along the lines of Galileo)
or a single ATM system. This Single European Sky Implementation
Programme (SESAME) is a dedicated, large-scale industrial programme
bringing together airspace users, operators and supply industry,
and covering the regulatory framework, funding sources, and implementation
forces. In its first phase, it will deliver a European ATM Master
Plan. This ATM Master Plan will also cover the ATM Research plan
for the short and mid term.
For more information on the European Single Sky Initiative:
European Commission Spokesperson for Science and Research,
Tel: +32-2/296 9921