European transport ministers and MEPs reach agreement on Single European Sky II package proposals
Fri 12 Dec 2008 – EU transport ministers reached agreement on Tuesday (December 9) on the technical details of Europe’s next-generation air traffic management system, paving the way for shorter flights and reduced CO2 emissions from air traffic. The day before, the European Parliament’s Transport Committee accepted a recommendation on the Single European Sky II proposals, which are now likely to be adopted at a plenary first reading in January.
“This is an historical moment, where we take a very important step into achieving a truly functional single European sky,” commented EU Transport Commissioner Antonio Tajani. “It represents a very strong signal from Europe to its citizens, since this means shorter distances to travel, less CO2 emissions, less expensive tickets and safer journeys. The European Commission, now with Council’s support, believes that tackling this approach from a European perspective in its entirety leads to a system that propels Europe’s air traffic management into the future.”
Romanian MEP Marian-Jean Marinescu, Parliament’s rapporteur on the initiative, said: “We have a European currency, we have eliminated the borders between Member States and now we want to eliminate borders in the sky. Technically speaking, the Single European Sky starts today. We only need the political will and close collaboration between civil and military authorities for these borders to disappear and to make the Single European Sky possible.”
By 2020, the Single European Sky is expected to increase European air capacity three-fold and reduce the environmental impact per flight by 10%.
On the eve of the ministerial meeting, 15 of Europe’s biggest aeronautical companies signed accession agreements to the SESAR Joint Undertaking, the technological component of the Single European Sky that will allow a new generation of air traffic management systems to be developed. Some €2.1 billion ($2.8bn) of funding is being raised for the public-private partnership, with industry and air navigation service providers (ANSPs) now fighting their corners over the allocation of the resources.
“If industry is to play a major role in the initiative, it is essential that at least half of the SESAR work programme and funding scheme is allocated to technology and system development activities in the development phase,” said Thales CEO Denis Ranque, speaking on behalf of ASD Europe, the European aerospace and defence industries association.
On the other hand, CANSO, the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation that represents ANSPs, has warned the allocation should be focused on delivering operational benefits rather than pure technological solutions.
“To ensure efficient European air traffic management, ANSPs have agreed to make their R&D resources, operational procedures and standardization proposals available to SESAR,” said Marie Desseaux, CANSO Director of European Affairs. “However, CANSO members are convinced that SESAR resources should be beneficial to the users of the ATM network – the airlines, airports and ANSPs. The aviation community is moving to a performance-driven approach in which over-reliance on technological products need to be avoided.”
CANSO Secretary-General Alexander ter Kuile said his organization believed the SESAR consultation and decision-making process needed strengthening in order to better align the investment and operational plans of the various stakeholders for the benefit of the European air traffic management network.