European nations must accelerate ATM modernisation: EC

The European Union (EU) on Friday warned that progress reports on the Single European Sky initiative indicate that the project risks missing crucial targets.
“There is a genuine risk that we will lag behind and find ourselves unable to satisfy the rising demands of air travel, which is set to nearly double by 2030,” said European Commission transport chief Siim Kallas who underlined that 2012 is a ´make or break year´ for the Single European Sky.
The Commission´s ´traffic light´ assessment showed a large majority of Member States to be in the orange or red zones and at risk of not meeting critical targets for 2012.
For 2012, the EU has established four key goals: the performance scheme, setting key targets; the nine functional airspace blocks to be operational by the end of 2012; the network manager, which has already been designated as Eurocontrol; and the launch of the deployment phase of SESAR, the technological arm of the Single European Sky (from 2014), moving from the R&D phase to the rollout of new equipment and technology.
The assessment allowed the EU to highlight serious cause for concern in relation to two of the four major elements within the Single European Sky project, the performance scheme and the functional airspace blocks.
Regarding the performance scheme, only 5 out of 27 Member States – Belgium, Denmark, Lithuania, Luxembourg and the Netherlands – have received a “green light” and are on track to meet both targets (for cost and capacity/delays) for the period 2012–14.
The Commission has issued recommendations requesting member states to revise these targets and, if necessary,it could adopt a binding decision requesting some to implement specific corrective measures.
Existing plans by member states would fail to meet the EU-wide capacity target of 0.5 minute delay per flight in 2014. If this target were to be achieved, some €920 million ($1.2 billion) would be saved over 2012-14 due to fewer and shorter delays.
In addition, national performance plans will miss the EU-wide target for ATM cost efficiency by 2.4 percent in 2014.
This would have a major impact, both on airspace users and on the credibility of the Single European Sky project. To meet the target, additional measures are needed to achieve a €250 million ($334 million) saving over the entire three-year reference period (2012–14).
Regarding the functional airspace blocks (FABs), all FAB blocks, except for the Danish/Swedish FAB, are in the orange or red zone and give serious cause for concern. The Commission urged member states to step up their actions. Failure to take measures at national levels could oblige the Commission to re-open the SES legislative packages to introduce a more radical solution, it said.