Brussels, 2 December 2010
Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland sign agreement towards the Single European Sky
Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland have today signed an agreement to create the "Functional Airspace Block –Europe Central" (FABEC), a key step in achieving the Single European Sky. The Single European Sky will see the establishment of several functional airspace blocks, or "FABs". They will put an end to the current fragmentation of European airspace and enable more efficient and shorter flights. This, in turn, will increase safety and reduce aviation's impact on the environment. Today's agreement represents the third functional airspace block, after the UK–Ireland FAB and the Denmark–Sweden FAB. The other European Union Member States are expected to sign similar agreements in the next two years.
European Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas, responsible for transport, said: "The FABEC agreement is an important step in reducing airspace fragmentation, as it covers the core area of Europe with many large airports. Today's signature should be an inspiration for the other Member States in their efforts to have all the functional airspace blocks in place by the deadline of 4 December 2012. The functional airspace blocks will be able to satisfy the growing capacity requirements of all airspace users with a minimum of delays by managing air traffic more dynamically. At the same time, safety standards and overall efficiency will be enhanced."
The creation of functional airspace blocks is one of the cornerstones of the Single European Sky. They are an important driver to deliver increased performance and will change the landscape of air traffic management (ATM) services. For air navigation service providers, the creation of the functional airspace blocks opens cooperation opportunities, which will facilitate a response to the new binding performance targets established under the Single European Sky legislation.
The FABEC airspace, characterised by closely interwoven civil and military traffic routes, has one of the highest traffic densities in the world and is located at the very core of Europe. Most of the large European airports and major civil and military airways are located in this area.
How will FABEC work?
The FABEC agreement creates the framework, general conditions and governance under which the contracting states intend to ensure air traffic management and the provision of air navigation services in the context of the Single European Sky legislation.
FABEC will be governed by a Council, assisted by four committees:
harmonization and advisory committee
financial and performance committee
national supervisory authority committee
A consultation board will be established to ensure the consultation of the air navigation service providers on matters relating to the provision of services within FABEC.
Furthermore, the FABEC states commit to:
work towards common technical systems and the cost-efficient deployment of infrastructure for communication, navigation and surveillance services;
coordinate the provision of aeronautical information service;
ensure cooperation among providers of aeronautical meteorological information and services;
ensure that air navigation service providers formalise their working relationships appropriately;
ensure that their national supervisory authorities set up a common mechanism for exchange of information, consultation and coordination for cross-border provision of services so that any necessary corrective action will be taken without delay.
The FABEC agreement is part of the common response to the Single European Sky performance scheme, whose objective is "to achieve optimal performance in the areas relating to safety, environmental sustainability, capacity, cost-efficiency, flight efficiency and military mission effectiveness, by the design of airspace and the organisation of ATM in the airspace concerned regardless of existing boundaries". This will attained by implementation of a FABEC performance plan consistent with the adopted EU-wide performance targets.
Other Member States are expected to swiftly finalise negotiations and ratify agreements in order to ensure full implementation before the deadline of 4 December 2012.