Single European Sky – Treading water, sinking… or?

On 16/03/2015, in SES News, by steve

There is a very interesting article in the 2-15 March issue of Aviation Week and Space Technology. They launch the story by saying that “after more than 10 years of talks, a single airspace in Europe is no closer to reality”. For someone new to this game, this would sound ominous indeed. For us veterans, the first thing that comes to mind is: so what else is new? I can recall many such articles published over the years and each time it was the same complaint: lots of words, little action, zero results.

I have written about the subject many times and in each case I tried to hint at what may be, just may be, the root cause of this lack of progress. I will try once more, not that I expect anyone to listen. But is I fun to go back in time and bring together a few salient facts that I think amply illustrate why we are where we are to-day and why it is going to be awfully hard to make real progress until some hard facts are in fact accepted… and something is done about them.

The concept of the Single European Sky is excellent and European aviation needs it more than anything else!

Back in 1984 it was a sunny fall afternoon when I arrived in Paris, to take up my new job at ICAO: technical officer RAC/SAR.

Airlines in Europe were in deep trouble. With a fragmented ATC system run almost like independent fiefdoms on the State level and traffic rising, scant attention was paid to creating new capacity. Instead the “solution” was to protect everyone’s home turf and limit the number of flights allowed in the airspace at a given time. Most flights were running with delays in excess of 30 minutes, various industrial actions were disrupting the ATM system even more and the old, also hopelessly fragmented flow control system was strained to the limits. Sectors loaded over capacity were a daily occurrence and it was not surprising: controllers deeply distrusted the system that was supposed to protect them from overloads. The result? The actually existing capacity was kept a secret and only a part was offered for use in the expectation that things will get overloaded anyway and with this trick at least the absolute maximum would not be exceeded. Delays went through the roof.

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If the European Commission’s Implementing Rule is not enough to jump-start data link, what is?

On 14/11/2012, in SES News, by steve

At the recent meeting of the Project Steering Group on Data Link, it was revealed that some States will not be able to meet the 7 February 2013 date by which “all LINK Region ANSPs shall have implemented an operational compliant system”. One State actually reported that they will not be ready before 2019!

The Data Link Services Implementing Rule (DLS-IR) was adopted on 16 January 2009 by the European Commission and published as EC Reg. No. 29/2009. The DLS-IR is legally binding and applies directly to Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) and to Aircraft Operators.

The main deadlines of the IR are as follows:

1 January 2011 – After this date all new aircraft operating above FL 285 shall be delivered with a compliant system.

7 February 2013 – By this date all LINK Region ANSPs shall have implemented an operational compliant system.

5 February 2015 – By this date all aircraft operating above FL 285 shall have been retrofitted with a compliant system.

5 February 2015 – By this date all EU Region ANSPs shall have implemented an operational compliant system.

31 December 2017 – Aircraft which are at least 20 years old and which will cease operation in the concerned airspace before 31 December 2017 are exempt.

1 January 2014 – Aircraft with individual airworthiness certificate before this date that are equipped with Future Air Navigation System (FANS) are exempt for the lifetime of the aircraft. Aircraft entering into service after 1 January 2014 shall comply with the rule.

1 January 2014 – New transport type State aircraft should comply with the rule if equipped with non-military data link.

Since 1 January 2011, all new aircraft are being delivered with VDL Mode 2/ATN compliant avionics and apparently, like so often in the past, they will be carrying their gear and burn the investment for no good reason at all, since the ground capability will not be in place.

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The Single European Sky: 10 years on and still not delivering

On 15/10/2012, in SES News, by steve

We bring you here, in full and unedited, the speech of Mr. Siim Kallas, European Commission Vice-President and Commissioner for Transport delivered at the Single European Sky conference at Limassol, Cyprus, on 11 October 2012. As Editor of Roger-Wilco, I would only like to add a few words: how many times have we warned that things were not going the way they should???? Now read what the EC had to say!

Ladies and gentlemen
Almost one year ago, I sounded an alarm bell about the poor progress made towards
achieving the Single European Sky. That is the reason why I chose a particular title for
my speech today: “10 years on and still not delivering”.
The Single Sky is the logical partner to Europe’s single transport market on the ground.
This flagship project is a concrete example of where Europe can make a difference to its
citizens by raising capacity, improving safety and cutting costs.
This was the original ambition more than a decade ago. Frankly, we remain a long way
from creating a single European airspace. The project is still not delivering – but I believe
that we have the tools to make it a success.

Air traffic control is still far too expensive. We are still hampered by a high level of
delays. This is the situation today, mirroring the same situation last year.

So where do we stand today?

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