Borealis free routes gain state-level support

Nine north European countries have agreed to work together at state level to support a major programme delivering Free Route Airspace in what is being seen as a major step forward for the Single European Sky initiative.

The Borealis Alliance, an industrial partnership consisting of nine European Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs), last month announced the launch of a programme to deliver seamless and integrated free route airspace across the whole of northern Europe by 2020, enabling airspace users to plan and take the most cost effective, fuel efficient and timely routes across the entire airspace managed by Borealis members.

The Alliance includes the ANSPs of Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Norway, Sweden and the UK. Combined, they provide air traffic services for 3.5m flights a year, across 12.5 million sq km of north European airspace. Between them, they form Europe’s major transatlantic gateway and provide air traffic services in 38 per cent of European airspace.
Now, following a workshop jointly organised by the Borealis Alliance, the National Supervisory Authorities (NSAs) responsible for regulating civil aviation of the nine ANSPs have established a working group to explore the best way to improve regulatory cooperation across all nine states.
While regulatory cooperation already takes place through existing mechanisms including bilateral agreements between states and the existing three Functional Airspace Blocks (FAB), Borealis said this new commitment to explore a consistent regulatory approach on this scale represents a significant step forward in regulatory cooperation.
Phil Roberts, head of airspace, air traffic management and aerodromes at the UK Civil Aviation Authority, speaking on behalf of the regulators, said: “This workshop has provided an ideal opportunity to consider how the regulators from nine states can work together more effectively in order to facilitate the introduction of the Borealis projects.  This enables us to build on relationships that already exist in some places through existing FAB structures and develop new ones in other areas that currently do not exist.  We see this as a really exciting opportunity to share best practice and to find new ways of working that will be effective and efficient.”
Richard Deakin, chairman of the Borealis Alliance, said: “Regulatory cooperation is just as important as cooperation between ANSPs in terms of reducing costs and improving performance for European air traffic management and we’re delighted that the NSAs of the Borealis Alliance have agreed to work together to set in place the mechanisms required to make the vision of Free Route Airspace in northern Europe a reality”.
Olle Sundin, vice-chair of the Alliance Board, added:  “This workshop is a successful example of an integrated partnership that includes both NSAs and ANSPs. We are working towards the same goal with the same ambition and are confident it will deliver results. In Borealis we will put all our efforts into delivering results that benefit our customers.”
The Borealis Free Route Airspace programme will build on work undertaken within the three existing Functional Airspace Blocks (FABs) – the Danish-Swedish, UK-Ireland and North European (NEFAB).