Brussels, 10 October 2001
A single European sky in 2004: towards a more efficient and safer airspace
The European Commission today adopted a package of proposals on air traffic management designed to create a single European sky by 31 December 2004. This package sets out the objectives of the single European sky and its operating principles, based on six main lines of action: joint management of airspace; establishment of a strong Community regulator; gradual integration of civilian and military management; institutional synergy between the EU and Eurocontrol; introduction of appropriate modern technology; and better coordination of human resources policy in the air traffic control sector. In order to speed up its creation, the Commission also adopted three proposals concerning the first specific measures: provision of air navigation services, organisation and use of airspace and interoperability of equipment.
"Europe's citizens will at last be able to fly in a European sky unhampered by frontiers while enjoying the highest possible level of aviation safety" stated Loyola de Palacio, Commission Vice-President with special responsibility for transport and energy. "This is an extremely important step: having a single European sky will make for optimum use of European airspace, with beneficial consequences as regards air traffic delays and growth. Thanks to integrated management and closer coordination between operators, including military ones, it will also facilitate crisis management and increase flight safety and security" she added.
Europe enjoys a very high level of aviation safety(1). However, the constant increase in air traffic is putting pressure on safety, and this has consequences in terms of delays. The technical measures taken to improve the management of airspace in recent years have created additional capacity, but this is often rapidly outstripped by the growth in traffic. Europeans are now demanding a better quality of air transport service, especially in terms of punctuality given that it is no longer the exception that flights are over half an hour late.
What is more, the attacks of 11 September in the United States have demonstrated the need for better integration of security(2) aspects in air traffic management through better integration and harmonisation of procedures and technologies and better coordination between all stakeholders, including military ones. Implementing the single sky will make it possible to prevent and manage crises more effectively.
The Commission is today proposing a legislative package on air traffic management covering the regulatory, economic, safety, environmental, operational, technological and institutional aspects of aviation. The package covers all uses of airspace, both civilian and military, and also involves air traffic control stakeholders, including industry and air traffic controllers.
The package comprises the following proposals:
The proposed measures are based on the report by the High Level Group (consisting of civilian and military representatives of the Member States) on the Single European Sky, which was chaired by Loyola de Palacio.
These proposals are ultimately intended to set up a decision-making and regulatory framework more in line with the constraints of air traffic so as to make it possible to restructure the EU's airspace on the basis of traffic instead of national frontiers. The new organisational structure proposed by the Commission should make it possible to increase aviation safety while addressing structural air traffic control problems.
The objectives of the proposals in a nutshell
The proposals are presented in greater detail in the annexes.
Creating the Single European Sky
Proposal for a framework Regulation
Main aspects of the proposal for a framework Regulation proposed by the Commission:
Provision of navigation services in the Single European Sky
Proposal for a Regulation
The objective of the proposal for a Regulation is to define a Community framework for the provision of air navigation services. While the Member States would remain responsible for the status of air navigation service providers, the proposed Regulation would impose the same obligations and offer the same opportunities to all service providers in order to create a genuinely frontier-free airspace within the EU.
The services concerned are as follows:
To ensure that the services proposed meet the objectives concerning the performance, safety and uniformity of the European airspace as a whole, the Commission is proposing the introduction of a harmonised system of authorisations according to precise specifications. The Member States will be responsible for implementing the system and mutually recognise their authorisations. This would also facilitate cooperation between service providers.
Provision of services
Principles. Charges would have to be set in accordance with the principles of non-discrimination, transparency and cost-relatedness. They would also have to constitute incentives to achieve the policy objectives set.
Financing the increase in air traffic control system capacity. Part of the charges paid by the airlines could be used to finance improvements to the system. The Commission will explore this possibility by allocating part of these charges to actions to increase air traffic control system capacity in order to implement projects of common interest between 2002 and 2005.
Organisation and use of airspace in the Single European Sky
Proposal for a Regulation
The objective of this proposal for a Regulation is to create an airspace without frontiers where the procedures for airspace design, planning and management ensure the efficient and safe performance of air traffic management. This entails organising the upper airspace for all Member States and ensuring consistency between the national organisations responsible for the lower airspace.
Creation of a European upper airspace
This zone will merge the existing national zones. The organisation of this area will be uniform on the basis of the principle of flexible and efficient use, ultimately making it possible to do away with the system of airways. To this end, the Commission is proposing:
The Commission will adopt the rules and general conditions applicable to air traffic flow management in order to optimise capacity utilisation. These rules will be developed in collaboration with the service providers, airports and airspace users. They will cover:
Interoperability of the European air traffic management network
Proposal for a Regulation
The objective of the proposal for a Regulation is to achieve interoperability within Community territory between the different systems and constituents of the air traffic management network, and make use of the possibilities offered by new technologies.
Essential requirements, specific requirements, rules and standards
The approach pursued by the Commission is as follows:
It is important that the Community airspace should enjoy the benefit of the solutions which are best both technically and commercially and which are best suited to airspace users and passengers. To this end, the Commission proposes that:
A framework should be provided for projects of common interest through the new programme for research and technological development (2003-2006) under which aeronautical research is a priority.
(1) The term safety covers the prevention of occurrences which may affect equipment or people (aircraft design, maintenance, etc.).
(2) The term security covers the prevention of acts deliberately intended to affect aircraft or peole (hijacking, bombs, etc.).