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Brussels, 26 February 2010

Single European Sky: Europeans commit to a greener, safer and more performant aviation in the Madrid Declaration

In a high-level Conference held in Madrid yesterday and today under the auspices of the European Commission and the Spanish Presidency, all stakeholders of the European aviation community agreed to give the necessary impetus to a timely implementation of the Single European Sky. The Single European Sky is of utmost importance for the future of European aviation. It will cut the cost of flying in half, decrease the environmental impact of flights by 10%, and improve capacity and the already very high safety record of European airspace. Vice-President Siim Kallas, in charge of transport policy, highlighted: "Time for reflection is over. Europe is paying dearly the costs of fragmentation. We now need to act and deliver a seamless, safer, more performant and sustainable single sky for Europe by 2012. I welcome today's results".

Following the adoption by the European Parliament and the Council of the 'Single Sky Package (SES) II' in record time in November 2009, the high-level conference held in Madrid on 25 and 26 February gave the necessary impetus to its concrete and full implementation by 2012. The Single European Sky reform was initially launched in 2004 to redesign the European sky according to traffic flows rather than national borders.

The conference was widely attended by representatives of the institutions and Member States of the European Union, third countries associated to the Single European Sky projects, military authorities, the European Civil Aviation Conference, Eurocontrol, the European Aviation Safety Agency, the SESAR joint undertaking, the professional staff representative bodies, the European air navigation service providers, the European manufacturing industry, the airspace user associations, the airports operators, and other representatives of the European aviation community.

Through the adoption of the Madrid Declaration, the participants in the conference agreed that delivering the Single European Sky is of utmost importance for the future of European aviation. The Madrid Declaration translates the 5 priorities of the Single European Sky into concrete actions on:

  • a new regulatory framework based on efficient governance and performance-based air traffic management;

  • the highest safety standards;

  • the most advanced technology in Europe;

  • the integration of the infrastructure in 'gate-to-gate' approach;

  • the human factor.

Concrete actions are to be implemented, prioritised, with challenging deadlines and a clear identification of 'who does what'.

This roadmap addresses:

  • the implementation of the performance scheme, the keystone of the entire package, which aims at setting binding targets on Member States in the key performance areas of safety, environment, airspace capacity and cost efficiency. Air travellers should soon benefit from a punctual, greener and more cost efficient mode of transport with a maintained or even enhanced level of safety;

  • the priority to be given to the human factor dimension with a focus on social dialogue, open reporting as a means to increase safety, training of controllers to maintain and increase their competence which, together with the European license, will allow them to work;

  • the implementation by Member States of functional blocks of airspace , designing the airspace in blocks that correspond to operational requirements and the needs of airlines rather than national borders. This will contribute to the defragmentation of airspace and should allow substantial economies of scale;

  • the civil–military cooperation , a crucial element for the success of the Single European Sky;

  • the establishment of a central, European, network management function aiming at ensuring cohesion of the European network and of the performance targets;

  • the strengthening of the safety of the network through the extension of EASA competences to air traffic management and airport, thus ensuring a "full system, gate-to-gate", approach to safety;

  • t he technological "pillar" materialised by an ambitious European programme (SESAR) aiming at replacing in a coordinated way throughout Europe an obsolete infrastructure by new products and equipments that will allow Member States to provide more efficient, more punctual, greener and safer air navigation services;

  • the extension of the Single European Sky to non-EU states for the benefit of the network.

More information on the high-level conference and the Single European Sky are available at:

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