The trade unions association that planned and then called off a Europe-wide ATC strike last October has scheduled a new job action on January 29 to express its displeasure with proposed amendments to Single European Sky (SES) legislation. The new strike planned by the Air Traffic Controllers European Unions Coordination (ATCEUC) will dovetail with another job action the European Transport Workers Federation (ETF) plans the following day.
Single European Sky
Eurocontrol’s Maastricht Upper Area Control Center last week introduced a system to dynamically manage upper airspace to suit traffic flow. The new variable division flight level (VDFL) enables a flexible distribution of traffic between upper and lower sectors (from 24,500 feet to unlimited), by altering the division flight level to match changing traffic patterns. The division flight level between the upper and lower sectors was previously fixed at 33,500 feet.
Air navigation service providers (ANSPs) from 10 Eastern and Central European countries signed a cooperation agreement earlier this month to create a regional entity with a stronger voice in Europe’s air traffic management decision-making process. The association covers airspace managed by three smaller groupings of adjoining countries known as functional airspace blocks (FABs), in this case the Baltic, Danube and Central Europe FABs.
The Middle East needs to prepare to handle increased air traffic congestion over the next few years, especially in the Gulf region; however, forming a central body to coordinate the necessary changes and harmonization is proving difficult.
The new executive director at the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), Patrick Ky, sees the agency’s role paradoxically heightened by national budget cuts. During a recent interview with AIN near EASA headquarters in Cologne, Germany, he explained that most member states–even Germany–had seen nationwide monitoring missions severely affected. Countries such as the Czech Republic, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania have cut jobs in administration, he added.
The Air Traffic Controllers European Unions Coordination (ATCEUC), representing some 14,000 controllers in the region, said it has called off a planned October 10 strike over safety issues tied to the Single European Sky program. The group said it had received assurances that the European Union is willing to discuss those safety issues before implementation.
European controllers have scrapped plans for a strike on October 10 to protest draft amendments to Single European Sky (SES) regulations that would expedite the restructuring of the continent’s ATC network.
The European Commission (EC) has reacted to the recent strikes by French air traffic controllers by speeding up what it says are long overdue improvements to the European air traffic management system.
Economic woes risk crippling Europe’s rollout schedule of a revolutionary system that could transform regional air travel because airlines are simply too wary to invest at a time of low growth.
Europe has now spent millions in developing a blueprint for a nigh-on perfect system with which to manage an eventual albeit belated explosion in the number of aircraft traveling through its congested skies.
This year is a crucial one for the modernization of Europe’s complex air traffic management (ATM) system, as it transitions from years of definition and development to initial deployment of Single European Sky (SES) systems designed to improve efficiency, save fuel and cut costs.