On 11-08-2012, in Viewpoint, by steve
If you read the official communiqués from SESAR and EUROCONTROL, it is easy to be lulled into the perception that all is well on the European air traffic management front and we are more than ready to face any sudden jump in traffic demand. If, on the other hand, you listen to the jungle telegraph or, increasingly, look at reports in the trade press, a very different picture emerges.
Air Traffic Management in Europe has always been a minefield of political wrangling and adding the EU to the combination has not really improved matters. SESAR is a flagship project with huge industry interests at play while also being a sensitive spot for the Commission who would of course not like to see SESAR fail, especially after the less than stellar performance of SES and the FABs.
It is striking to observe the difference in communications about the US’s NextGen and the European SESAR. NextGen is far from problem free and you read about it regularly. The problems and possible solutions are being openly discussed and credibility is not adversely affected by this openness. At the same time, SESAR appears to be problem free… and this is what kills credibility in the eyes of all but the most short sighted experts.
There is no perfect project. Problems are normal and are there to be solved. Pretending that there are no problems is counter productive and certainly does not help solving them.
Of course the current ATM problems are not new and may be this is why the powers that be would rather not talk about them. We are not being faced by insurmountable engineering problems or technology challenges. Not at all.
EATCHIP and ATM2000+ were killed by States and ANSPs which refused to work together, to relinquish even a little bit of their prerogatives… Results were always too little, too late. And now a very similar scenario is shaping up except that this time more money is being spent on it than ever before. No wonder some people think it is better to be mum about the problems.
They are wrong. European ATM will only ever get out of this vicious cycle if finally a spade is called a spade and the real culprits of past failure are recognized… and the proper solutions applied