“Despite several crises, air traffic growth continues inexorably in Europe but with delays reaching an all-time low, the average delay per flight now standing at less than two minutes,” said Bo Redeborn, Eurocontrol director of ATM strategies, at the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition earlier this year.
Eurocontrol has identified business aviation as a prime contributor to the growth of air traffic on the continent. “Business aircraft traffic grows faster than other IFR traffic, accounting for about 4.5 percent of all IFR movements in Europe last year. We have also noted an 8-percent increase in bizjet traffic so far this year.”
“Business aviation of course includes more than jets, but the business jet sector has the advantage of being easily identifiable in the flight-plan data that is available to Eurocontrol,” added Redeborn. To obtain these figures, the agency cross-referenced the list of business jets from the Airclaims database with its own archives of all IFR flights.
“We are well aware of the current strength of business aviation, and of the promising signs for future growth,” emphasized the Eurocontrol executive, who mentioned that Statfor, the agency’s statistics and forecast service, launched a study on the effect of business aviation growth on air traffic management.
This is seen as a welcome initiative since there is a lack of such data in Europe. Each month Statfor produces statistics about the number of IFR movements in each of the 37 states or regions it covers, using analysis of data from the Central Route Charges Office (CRCO) and CFMU flight data, and of data from national administrations if CRCO data are not available.
Agnieszka Wegner, project manager for the study, told AIN that Statfor completed the pre-definition phase by the end of June. The purpose of the preliminary, fact-finding phase was to locate critical data and determine the needs of this sector of the industry.
During the first phase, Statfor sought feedback from within the agency as well as from the industry and trade groups such as the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA). Statfor will consult EBAA throughout the study, said an association official.
The agency will now conduct two additional phases simultaneously. The first phase will analyze data from a historical point of view, to provide a picture of the evolution of business aviation traffic in Europe. The availability of the data will determine the time frame for the study.
More specifically, Eurocontrol would like to know which routes business aircraft fly, which airports they use, the seasonality/ frequency of the flights, the composition of the fleet, the aircraft capacity, the flight times, the delays encountered, the altitudes flown and so on.
The other phase will analyze future trends, including the potential effect of the introduction of very light jets in European airspace. It will also consolidate industry forecasts to create a comprehensive and global view of air traffic trends in Europe.
During the last phase, Eurocontrol will analyze the effect of business aviation–particularly in the areas of safety, the environment, delays, ATC workload and so on–on the air traffic management system. “It is an important phase that will allow us to find out how we can anticipate the growth,” emphasized Wegner. That phase should be complete by April.
Eurocontrol has not yet announced when it will publicize its findings from the study.