Forecasts suggest that by 2035 there will be 14.4m flights a year across Europe, 50% more than in 2012.  Europe’s airspace, and the way we manage it, will need to be very efficient to deal with that level of demand and maintain both safety and service.

The Single European Sky (SES) programme was designed to help reduce the current fragmentation of air navigation service provision across Europe and, in doing so, improve safety, fuel efficiency and reduce costs for customers.

There are various pillars to the SES programme looking at both technological and geographic ways of managing Europe’s airspace more efficiently.  The central  geographic pillar is Functional Airspace Blocks (FABs), formed between adjacent member States to create cross-boundary blocks of airspace where air traffic services can be provided in a more seamless manner.

The UK and Ireland through NATS, and our partners the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA), launched Europe’s first FAB in 2008.   We published our latest progress report last week which shows the FAB is doing exactly what’s required – making real progress in delivering savings to our customers.

The report shows that in 2012 the UK-Ireland FAB delivered an estimated €27m of enabled savings to airlines, including 25,000 tonnes of fuel savings, equivalent to 80,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions. Since it launched in 2008, we have now delivered more than €70m of enabled savings to customers, including 73,000 tonnes of fuel and 232,000 tonnes of CO2.

The report highlights projects successfully implemented over the past year, such as a High Level Sectors feasibility study, Point Merge at Dublin Airport, which has pretty much eradicated the need for traditional holding patterns, and integrated Network Management – another first for a FAB – which has made transition from and to the North Atlantic much smoother for airlines. These projects have delivered real benefits to airlines and airspace users, increasing efficiency and reducing environmental impact.

While we’ve made excellent progress, we know there’s more to be done and we have a number of projects to build on the savings delivered to date. We’ll be sure to keep you updated, but in the meantime, if you’re interested in reading more about the FAB you can visit our new UK-Ireland FAB website –


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