Does European ATM know where it is going?

On 13-02-2014, in FAB News, by cleo

fabAlmost forgotten in the mist of European air traffic management history is an organization called EUROCONTROL. It was invented to be the FAA of Europe… or something like that. It would have been the provider of ATM for the continent using an efficient, correctly sized infrastructure and number of ATC Units.

Before it could become anything like it was intended, European States basically killed the idea and left EUROCONTROL with exactly 1.5 centers plus a bit of training and research facilities. The famous and often damned fragmented European ATM system was re-born.

When delays went through the roof and airlines raised hell about it, a series of pan-European projects were initiated (EATCHIP, ATM2000+) were initiated, only to fail miserably. Not because EUROCONTROL was not up to the job… but because States made sure the status quo was not disturbed. Then the European Commission joined the fray…

When the EC realized that even they would not be able to move Europe to work as one, they embraced the weird idea of Functional Airspace Blocks (FAB)… a concept that is a variation on the old fragmented scenario hidden under a fancy name. To say that the FAB’s were not exactly a success is the understatement of the century.

After plodding along for many years with mighty little to show for it, FABs are now consolidating.

Read the following press release:

“GATE ONE: Now 11 members on board

Regional ANSP cooperation to represent their common interests at all relevant European fora.

The common goal of ANSPs of the three Central and Eastern European functional airspace blocks (Baltic FAB, Danube FAB and FAB CE) covering their whole airspace, including ANSPs of 11 countries into a strategic alliance, is to increase efficiency of the European ATM through a more intensive cooperation.

On the 3rd of February 2014, the ANSP of Bosnia-Hercegovina (BHANSA) joined the Cooperation Agreement signed by the CEOs of ANSPs of Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Poland, Lithuania, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia in Sofia on the 6th of November, 2013.

On the evening preceding the regional SESAR workshop, Gate One members meeting in “Aviation Valley”, Rzesz√≥w, Poland, discussed the possibilities and ways of joining SESAR Joint Undertaking (SESAR JU) which is conducting the technical-technological preparations of the new SESAR 2020 programme.

As a result of the meeting, Gate One ANSPs, covering the area from Baltic to Black Sea, have committed to provide their common views in a near future on major European issues to all aviation stakeholders on important ATM-related topics, such as the next steps in the implementation of Single European Sky (SES) or further evolution of EUROCONTROL.”

So, the GATE ONE folks will represent their common interests at all relevant European fora… How does this fit into the Single European Sky? What will happen if a few other FABs also band together to represent their interests on those European fora? And what fora are those?

Is the next act in this ATM saga entitled the War of the FABs?

The least the Commission should do is stop calling their baby Single or European or Sky. It is neither. Face reality gents. It is business as usual in Europe and may the Almighty help us when traffic levels start to rise again!

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