FABEC divisions hamper Single Sky vision

Conflicting views on how to go about integrating cross-border air traffic control have hampered efforts to streamline operations in some of the busiest parts of Europe
In its latest annual report, Swiss air traffic control organisation skyguide insisted that it continues to work together with its counterparts in Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands to create Functional Airspace Block Europe Central (FABEC), one of the nine new functional airspace blocks of the planned Single European Sky.
The new larger airspace blocks are intended to enhance the performance and efficiency of Europe’s air traffic management system.
But skyguide reports that progress last year in the FABEC collaboration process was slower than planned.
“The parties involved still have differing views and positions on the integration steps required, substantially so in certain areas,” it said.
“The overall umbrella organisation of the air navigation service provider within FABEC demanded by skyguide, for example, could not be established,” it reported, adding: “All the parties involved will have to collaborate more closely if major progress is to be made in the FABEC venture; and much work still clearly lies ahead before the vision of a Single European Sky becomes an operating reality.”
All of Europe’s air navigation service providers – including skyguide – will this year be issued with concrete and highly ambitious financial and capacity performance targets by Single European Sky architects at the European Commission.
“Given the foundations it has laid over the past few years, skyguide is well equipped to meet and master the challenge of competing in this European environment,” said skyguide.
It said that after an encouraging 2011 when it broke records in terms of flight punctuality, skyguide expects 2012 to be a difficult business year.
“The main reason for such caution is the uncertain economic climate in Europe, which is itself the result of the current debt crisis. Traffic growth projections for the year have already been downwardly revised, and the volumes expected are currently slightly below those of 2011,” it said, adding that it did not expect to see renewed traffic growth before 2013.
“The uncertainty over the euro casts a further cloud over the prospects for 2012 in business terms,” it said.
Read more: EC transport chief Siim Kallas interviewTrinational Swiss/German/French control centre plan dropped: skyguide