With a view to guaranteeing interoperability between the FAA’s NextGen air traffic management system (ATM) and the European Union’s Sesar (Single European Sky ATM Research), the FAA and the European Commission (EC) launched talks last month in Brussels aimed at drafting a memorandum of cooperation (MOC) in civil aviation research and development.
Single European Sky
European Regions Airline Association director-general Mike Ambrose struck an extraordinarily positive tone during a recent interview with AIN as the recession-driven downturn in traffic appears to be easing slightly.
Airbus officially became a full member of the SESAR air traffic management modernization program on Friday, when it signed an agreement that marked what it described as the actual start of program. Honeywell also signed up as a program partner on the same day, and is investing approximately $56 million to define concepts, develop technology and demonstrate operational scenarios.
At the end of March the troubled Single European Sky (SES) program received a vital boost when the European Parliament gave the project the legislative teeth it needed for the unified air traffic management (ATM) system enshrined in the SES package to be realized. The same week also saw the European Council endorse the all-important SESAR technology program which underpins the SES.
With the introduction of the second phase of the Single European Sky (SES II), the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) will greatly increase its scope by assuming responsibility for safety regulation of the region’s ATC structure and its airports. The EASA succeeds Europe’s Joint Aviation Authorities.
A September ICAO NextGen/Sesar Forum in Montreal underscored the fact that the U.S. and Europe are following different paths to a future air traffic management system. Officials managing the FAA’s NextGen and Europe’s Sesar–for Single European Sky ATM Research–agree that by 2025 traffic is expected to double, and maybe even triple, and that today’s control systems will not be able to handle the increase.
“Rumors of our death are greatly exaggerated,” according to European Regions Airline Association (ERA) director-general Mike Ambrose. However, the industry is facing major obvious challenges, including “high fuel prices, worldwide economic crisis, loss of consumer confidence, falling traffic and severely reduced prospects for growth and profitability even in traditionally strong markets.”
European Regions Airline Association members face three “front-line” issues as they prepare for their annual general assembly in Manchester, England, this month: the environment, the so-called Single European Sky (SES) and safety regulation. Director-general Mike Ambrose concedes that the industry’s concerns haven’t changed much over the past year, but the scrutiny on these topics has become “more intense” since the last general assembly.
On May 6, a long-term solution to Europe’s air traffic control congestion problems came a giant step closer with the launch of the Single European Sky (SES) development phase.
In a briefing sponsored by the Flight Safety Foundation in Wash- ington last month, David McMillan, director general of Eurocontrol, told aviation media that the European Union’s Single European Sky ATM Research (Sesar) program must have similar systems to the FAA’s NextGen to ensure interoperability.