Commission Report Puts the Lie to Claims that ATM is in Great Shape

On 26-11-2011, in SESAR's Palace, by cleo

Regular readers of Roger-Wilco know that we have been sounding alarm bells over the European ATM situation and the even brighter future that some reports would make us believe is just around the corner. We did not make many friends with this kind of reporting… of course. It is much nicer to believe that all is well even when the plane is crashing. But we were not reporting unfounded facts. Our sources are better than most…

And now a press release from the European Commission finally brings to light just how bad the situation really is.

The “traffic light” assessments published today by the Commission – based on two progress reports – highlight serious cause for concern in relation to two major elements which go to the heart of the Single European Sky project: the performance scheme and the functional airspace blocks.

Only 5 out of 27 Member States (Belgium, Denmark, Lithuania, Luxembourg and the Netherlands) get a “green light” and are on track to meet both targets (for cost and capacity/delays) for the period 2012–14. The Commission has issued recommendations asking Member States to revise these targets. If necessary the Commission could adopt a binding decision requesting the Member State(s) concerned to implement specific corrective measures, although a short time remains available for the targets to be met without recourse to this action.

Existing plans by Member States would fail to meet the EU-wide capacity target of 0.5 minute delay per flight in 2014. If this target were achieved, some €920 million would be saved over 2012–14 due to fewer and shorter delays.

In addition, national performance plans would miss the EU-wide target for ATM cost efficiency by 2.4% in 2014. This would have a a major impact, both on airspace users and on the credibility of the Single European Sky. To meet the target, additional measures are needed to achieve a €250 million saving over the entire three-year reference period (2012–14).

Well, this is not exactly the bright picture that States and ANSPs would want the industry to see. Keep in mind also that all this is happening after the failure of EATCHIP and ATM2000+. I hope you are not going to say now that SESAR will be different. SESAR may be but the rest of the environment is not….

But there is more.

The great Functional Airspace Block fiasco.

All FAB blocks, except for one, the Danish/Swedish FAB, are in the orange or red zone and give serious cause for concern. The Commission is urging Member States to step up their actions. Failure to take measures at national level could oblige the Commission to re-open the SES legislative packages to introduce a more radical solution. As you will recall, all 9 FABs were supposed to be fully operational by the end of 2012. With only one of them being anywhere near ready, that target is unlikely to be met. Of course when you see a FAB claiming success with night direct routes when in fact those have been in use for more than a decade, one really has to ask: what exactly are these guys doing?

With only 5 States having submitted performance plans which would enable the EU wide targets to be met, one cannot but wonder. Is the Single European Sky a failure like all other initiatives before it, crashing in flames because of the parochial thinking and attitudes of the EU member states or what? With this kind of hinterland, there is no hope for SESAR either.

At least itwould be nice if the various Newsletters and other SES/FAB and SESAR publications would stop the hogwash and would start to discuss the real problems rather than harping on doubtful successes.

I would also suggest that at the upcoming ATC Global conference in Amsterdam this EU press release be given a presentation and a bit of discussion. May be it would make attending that conference finally worthwhile.

Read the press release here.

Read the response of the airline associations here.

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