Airspace users debate a way forward on managing Europe’s traffic

Nov. 29, 2018

Increasing the efficiency and capacity of Europe’s skies was the core of the debate that took place at conferences hosted by A4E and IATA on 6 and 13-14 November respectively. The SESAR Joint Undertaking, represented by Executive Director Florian Guillermet, was part of the debate and gave his view of on the way forward and the role that technology can play.

During the A4E COO Forum on 6 November, Chief Operating Officers (COOs) from 15 of Europe’s leading airlines — accounting for nearly half a billion passengers per year — urged for measures to be taken to tackle the bottlenecks affecting European air space. In a declaration, key industry players agreed that the current system has reached its limit and urgent changes are needed.

Opening the Forum, A4E Managing Director Thomas Reynaert said, “The reputation of Europe is at stake. Reform of EU airspace must be a top priority for the next Commission and all involved national bodies. Passengers deserve an efficient European aviation industry and that can only be delivered with a seamless approach to EU airspace.”

During his intervention at the conference, Florian Guillermet, Executive Director of the SESAR JU, pointed to the available technologies through SESAR and the concrete benefits that they can bring to capacity, but also safety, cost efficiency and the environment. “The pressure is on to accelerate the pace of change given the air traffic growth and diversity of air vehicles taking to the skies today and in the coming years. This is not something that can be achieved by any one stakeholder alone. We as a community need to harness the technologies that are already there to enable a scalable and networked ATM system across Europe,” he said.

The need for a “spirit of change” was also the focus of IATA’s Wings of Change conference on 13-14 November. IATA proposes a four-point plan for improvements, which includes steps for the further modernisation of the ATM infrastructure.

“This year’s ATM performance has seen delays at record levels. Passengers deserve better, and airlines cannot wait for the benefits of the Single European Sky program to materialize. Urgent action is needed today to ensure improvements are in place for next summer,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO, in a keynote address.

Also speaking at the conference, Florian Guillermet said: “Air traffic growth is back in Europe. The pace of technology change is increasing rapidly. The challenge now is to speed implementation and invest in the right technology in the right way, within the context of a performance-based regulation.”