I mentioned previously about the important debate and work that’s going on to improve and modernise the way we manage our skies.
One of the major ways this is being addressed within Europe is through the European Commission’s Single European Sky (SES) initiative.
On Monday, Ministers from across Europe gathered in Vilnius to discuss the Commission’s latest legislative proposal to help deliver the Single European Sky – SESII+, alongside key stakeholders from the European Commission and the industry. Siim Kallas, Vice-President of the European Commission and Commissioner for Transport, gave an impassioned speech at the event and, quite rightly, defended the objectives of the Single European Sky.
We are very supportive of what the Single European Sky is trying to deliver – defragmenting Europe’s sky to provide a more efficient service whilst improving safety, reducing costs for airspace users and minimising the impact on our environment.
One of the most important ways of moving towards this vision is to ensure the air traffic management industry is at the heart of the debate about how we get to where we all, as stakeholders in our airspace, want to be. It was positive that the organisation representing Civil Air Navigation Service Providers, CANSO, of which NATS is a founder member, was invited to speak at the gathering of Ministers which took place on Monday.
Unfortunately, the Air Navigation Service Providers are often seen as blockers rather than key enablers of this vision. The ANSPs and their staff know what needs to be done and need to be allowed the freedom to do it without excessive legislation or restrictions.
Regulation and legislation has a role to play in all of this, but it must stimulate, not stifle change. Creating a regulatory environment that encourages and incentivises high performance is central to the successful functioning of any industry. An important balance has to be found between targets, incentives and freedoms. Doing that is central, we believe, to providing a framework that will ensure we can deliver the benefits of a Single European Sky to airspace users.
Included in the commission’s draft legislation “SESII+” is the idea of making the Functional Airspace Blocks (FABs) more industry focused. While this idea is welcomed, perhaps we need to think about this in the same way that the airlines, our customers, formed their alliances.
Star, Oneworld and Skyteam, to name just three, have had a very positive impact on airline costs. Could this be a possible model for the future in ATM? The aims are the same – reduced costs and enhanced efficiency, whilst at the same time ensuring we maintain the safety and service standards that are at the very heart of everything we do.
In his speech Commissioner Kallas also asked how do we, as Europe as a whole, achieve the economies of scale and meet the future capacity demand that were the original aim of the Single European Sky?
Despite the changes in traffic growth predictions, this is the real debate and one that needs to include all the stakeholders involved in managing and using our airspace, so that we can do the right things, at the right time, to deliver on SES. We’ll be talking about this more in the coming months.
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