Since 2004, the European Union (EU)gained competences in air traffic management (ATM) and the decision making method moved away from intergovernmental pratice to the EU framework. The main objective of the EU is to reform ATM in Europe in order to cope with a sustained air traffic growth and air traffic operations under the safest, more cost- and flight-efficient and environmentally friendly conditions. This implies de-fragmenting the European airspace, reducing delays, increasing safety standards and flight efficiency to reduce the aviation environmental footprint and reducing costs related to service provision.
Some background data
- The European ANS system (¹) covers 37 ANSPs, participating in a cost-efficiency benchmarking report, is a business of 8,6 bn EUR with some 57,000 staff (compared to Airbus worldwide employment of 52,000) and 16,900 are air traffic controllers compared to 13,000 ATC in the USA.
- In 2010, the European ATM system has controlled 9, 5 million flights and on busy days, 33.000 flights. The 2020 forecast shall increase to 17 million flights yearly and 50,000 flights on busy days.
- In 2010, there were 19,4 million minutes delay for en-route ATFM, and on average, each flight is 49km longer than direct flight.
- European airspace : 10,8 million km², 60 control centres- fragmentation of airspace.
- Estimated costs of fragmentation of airspace amounts to 4 bn EUR a year.
- 5 biggest ANSPs (AENA, DSNA, NATS, DFS, ENAV) bear 60,3% of total European gate-to-gate ATM/CNS provision costs and they operate 54% of European traffic.
- As consequence, 40% of remaining gate-to-gate ATM/CNS costs are borne by 32 other smaller ANSPs.
- Big divergences in the economic cost-effectiveness of the ANSPs (understood as a financial cost per unit and cost for the grounf ATFM delay) range from 837 EUR for Belgocontrol to 163 EUR for Estonian Air Navigation Services.
(1) Please note that the Cost-Effectiveness Bench Marking Reports (ACE reports) of Eurocontrol for 2009 are made for 37 States and take into account the 27 Member States of the EU, EFTA countries (Switzerland, Norway), ECAA countries (Serbia, Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia, Croatia) and countries not coverd by the SES Regulations (Ukraine, Turkey, Armenia, Moldova). Iceland is not covered.
This approach is based on the Community method, especially the power of initative of the European Commission (EC), the monitoring of the compliance of the Member States with the legislation in force and the involvement of a regulatory Committee made of representatives from Member States (known as Single Sky Committee) with its advisory and regulatory powers.
The SES legislative framework consists of four Basic Regulations (N° 549/2004, 550/2004, 551/2004 and 552/2004) covering the provision of air navigation services (ANS), the organisation and use of airspace and the interoperability of the European Air Traffic Management Network (EATMN). The four Regulations adopted in 2004 (the SES I Package) have been revised and extended in 2009 with Regulation (EC) n° 1070/2009 aiming at increasing the overall performance of the air traffic management system in Europe (the SES II Package).
This framework also includes more than 20 Implementing Rules and Community Specifications ("technical standards") adopted by the European Commission starting from 2005 in view of ensuring interoperability of technologies and systems.
Major developments have been possible due to the enhanced cooperation with Eurocontrol, and the extensive involvement of the stakeholders from the ATM community at large : industry partners, air navigation service providers (ANSPs), national supervisory authorities (NSAs), social dialogue with the staff unions, airport authorities, the military and the certification authorities.
The SES framework has been supplemented by an integrated approach towards safety by the extension in 2009 of the competencies of the EASA in the field of aerodromes, air traffic management and air navigation services, and through the establishment in 2007 of a joint undertaking (JU) on research & development, the SESAR JU (SESAR standing for the Single European Sky ATM Research). In short, SESAR is dealing with the new generation European air traffic management system.
The overall SES objectives will be achieved through a holistic approach that encompasses 5 interrelated pillars : the performance-based regulatory framework, the safety pillar, the technological contribution, the human factor and the optimisation of the airport infrastructure.
The SES does not stop at the border of the European Union. its extension to third neighbouring countries primarily relies on the policy of the EU in the field of international relations. This policy, which gives priority to the association and/or integration of third countries into the EU legal framework, also considers the added value of regional cooperation activities carried out at the level of international organisations, such as ICAO and Eurocontrol. The EU representatives are active in these organisations to ensure overall consistency between its action in the external field and action undertaken under aegis of such organisations.