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Single European Sky: Europeans commit to a greener, safer and more performant aviation in the Madrid Declaration

In a high-level Conference held in Madrid on 25 and 26 February under the auspices of the European Commission and the Spanish Presidency, all stakeholders of the European aviation community agreed to give the necessary impetus to a timely implementation of the Single European Sky. The Single European Sky is of utmost importance for the future of European aviation. It will cut the cost of flying in half, decrease the environmental impact of flights by 10%, and improve capacity and the already very high safety record of European airspace. Vice-President Siim Kallas, in charge of transport policy, highlighted: "Time for reflection is over. Europe is paying dearly the costs of fragmentation. We now need to act and deliver a seamless, safer, more performant and sustainable single sky for Europe by 2012. I welcome today's results".

 

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Background

Single European Sky

The Single European Sky is an ambitious initiative to reform the architecture of European air traffic control to meet future capacity and safety need There has been a sharp rise in delays to aircrafts. This has major repercussions for users and places a substantial financial burden on airlines. Delays cost airlines between €1.3 and €1.9 billion a year. The delays are due to a combination of factors: insufficient capacity of the air traffic control system, adverse weather, problems of airports or within airline operations.

Air traffic has definitely recovered after the temporary slowdown following the down turn of the world economy in general and the terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001. Estimates are that air traffic will grow by 4% a year over the next 15 years, leading to a nearby doubling of traffic by 2020. Air traffic is already hitting monthly record numbers and 2004 will most likely be a record year in terms of air traffic.

In addition, the traffic increase requires permanent emphasis on safety. The framework for safety regulation and safety management must be reinforced in order to ensure that the traffic can continue to grow without putting the travelling public at risk. The Single European Sky initiative is intended to organise airspace and air navigation at a European rather than at a local level.

Improved air traffic and aircraft positioning and communication technologies, such as GALILEO, offer opportunities for significant improvements in the efficiency and safety of air travel. It responds to the need to conceive developments in air traffic management as a building block of the Community transport policy, enshrined in the White Paper of 27 November 2001.

 

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