ATC in Europe costs about 70 percent more than in the U.S., according to the 2001 annual report of the Eurocontrol Performance Review Commission (PRC) published in late July. The commission demanded fundamental reform of Eurocontrol’s user-charge formula, arguing that the agency’s constituent national ATC service providers currently have no real incentive to become more efficient.
European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation
Warning that the number of very light jets (VLJ) in European airspace is about to soar, Eurocontrol is considering a requirement for turbine-powered airplanes weighing less than 12,500 pounds to carry traffic alert and collision avoidance systems (TCAS). Officials say that adding VLJs into Europe’s increasingly crowded mix of airliners and large business jets could be a prescription for disaster.
Flight crews are the primary cause in two out of three accidents in the 41 states of the European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC), according to Mike Ambrose, director general of the European Regions Airline Association (ERA). Ambrose was speaking at the March 18 to 19 European Aviation Safety Seminar jointly presented in Geneva, by the Flight Safety Foundation (FSF) and ERA.
If international flight operations were complicated after 9/11, they are certain to become even more difficult now in view of the U.S.-led war against Iraq. Ironically enough, the conflict began during the middle of NBAA’s 30th International Operators Conference (IOC), held in Colorado Springs, Colo. in mid-March, just a stone’s throw away from the massive Cheyenne Mountain headquarters of NORAD.
European Union (EU) transport ministers have approved the Single Sky plan for harmonizing European air traffic management (ATM), clearing the way to meet an implementation deadline of Dec. 31, 2004.
“Aviation is emerging from the most difficult period in its history to date. This recovery is still fragile. It is under pressure from fuel costs, uncertain stability in regions, military conflicts, international terrorism and changes in the business model by low-cost carriers.
Aircraft operators have been forced to add new technology to meet updated requirements since the 1950s, but nothing ever seems to come off aircraft, one air traffic expert noted recently.
Eurocontrol is offering equipment exemptions until March 31 next year for operators flying to Europe without ACAS II (TCAS with Change 7). A rash of problems related to obtaining necessary STCs and Service Bulletins, equipment non-availability and certification problems has been plaguing operators since before the original January 1 deadline, prompting the extension.
The economic doldrums have begun to markedly slow the phenomenal growth European regional carriers have enjoyed in recent years.
Businesses continue to increase the use of their aircraft–even if they are not in great numbers adding to their fleets–despite operational challenges in the name of security and access control. Representatives from U.S. and European aviation organizations discussed these and other issues at a presentation at last month’s European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (EBACE) in Geneva.