Single European Sky Will Spur Equipment Needs

EBACE Convention News » 2012
May 15, 2012, 8:30 PM

Operators of business and general aviation aircraft will have to accept that participation in the next-generation European airspace system will require them to invest in new equipment, as the concept of “first-come, first-served” is gradually retired.

That message was delivered Tuesday at the EBACE show by Patrick Ky, executive director of the Single European Sky ATM Research (Sesar) Joint Undertaking, the public-private entity managing the development of the Sesar future airspace system. Ky said the cost for all segments of aviation to equip with new avionics for baseline capability by 2024 is estimated at €10.1 billion ($13 billion), with the cost to business and general aviation being €2.7 billion ($3.45 billion).

“This is the catalog of technologies we’ve developed,” Ky said, presenting a list of several enabling systems. “That doesn’t mean to say that it will be absolutely necessary for you to invest in all of those technologies. I don’t believe in ‘one size fits all.’ But you have to recognize that if you are equipped with a given technology it will give you access to a certain number of services that you may not have access to if you do not have the technology.”

Ky said European airspace planners are working on “specific measures” that will assist operators in making investment decisions and making their own “business case” for new equipage. He said the cost to business aviation of new avionics must be qualified, taking into account the expected benefits and operational context of various operators. To that end, he called for greater collaboration with the business aviation community to better understand its priorities.

However, Ky left little doubt that some level of investment will have to be made to gain airspace- and airport-access equal to those operators who choose to equip.

“Today, aircraft have equal access to the airspace,” he said. “The rule is first-come, first-served. We want to introduce in ICAO [the International Civil Aviation Organization] the notion of getting rid of this first-come, first-served rule. The efficiency may be an efficiency measure that you, as operators, find. It can be based on equipment; it can be based on a number of things [but]…we believe we will have to make some choices in order to give different types of services to different types of aircraft.”

Also speaking on the Sesar panel was Mark Wilson, NetJets Europe chief operating officer. Wilson said business aviation should be able to use secondary and tertiary airports in Europe “with a sensible level of instrument-guided approaches.” He said airspace capacity improvements should be rolled out networkwide, with emphasis placed on city pairs, and not concentrated at major airports serving mainly airlines.

“Where I’m a little concerned is what is actually going to come out of the Sesar program, not so much the academic part of what is possible, but the hard-edged financial part–how much it’s going to cost, and what is really a positive business case,” Wilson said. “Is it a positive business case for the operator, is it a positive business case for the European economy or is it a positive business case for the provider of equipment?

“We’ve always accepted at NetJets that you need to have enough equipment on board to participate efficiently in the airspace. But some form of arms race of equipage simply to get an extra box of tricks that does little for efficiency…we have to be very careful to guard against that.”

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