SESAR chief defends EU funding, counters conflict of interest claims

European funding has been instrumental in helping overcome many of the financial risks that could have slowed down SESAR deployment and impacted ATM network performance, according to the body in charge of managing the multi-billion investment in European industry.

Responding to a critical report by the European Court of Auditors (ECA) on the European Union’s role in the deployment of SESAR, the SESAR Deployment Manager responded to claims that EU funding in support of ATM modernisation has frequently not been necessary.

“The ECA’s report suggests EU funding was unnecessary, yet the ECA’s report does not recommend a stop to funding. This is because of the progress in synchronising ATM modernisation, in the context of SESAR deployment,” countered Nicolas Warinsko who heads the SESAR Deployment Manager.

“The result of pro-active coordination co-funded by the EU is that nearly 90 per cent of the Implementing Regulation is either completed, ongoing, or planned. It is this high level of preparation and anticipation by all stakeholders, which is the actual benefit of the EU investment in SESAR Deployment Manager,” he continued.

He pointed out that the Pilot Common Project (PCP), as an Implementing Regulation (IR) is an EU law binding EU member states and their stakeholders to implement up to six new ATM functionalities by 2025.

“The binding nature is totally independent from any potential EU financial support. However, the EU financial support has been instrumental for stakeholders to bridge negative business cases that otherwise, would at least have slowed down deployment to the detriment of ATM network performance,” said Warinsko.

He said experience had shown that IRs are required to set clear objectives to the ATM community but are insufficient in ensuring deployment is conducted in a synchronised way, ahead of regulatory deadlines.

Warinsko argued that the requirement for EU funding arose from experience gained through other Implementing Regulations [e.g. Data Link Services – (DLS), Surveillance Performance and Interoperability (SPI), Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS-B)] that stimulating a coordinated and synchronised implementation by all impacted stakeholders, well ahead of the regulatory deadlines, significantly increases final compliance and overall performance benefits.

Regarding the report flagging potential conflicts of interest, Warinsko said the SESAR Deployment Manager could demonstrate mechanisms to prevent such situations.

“As SESAR Deployment Manager, we do not intervene in the awarding of Union grants to ATM modernisation projects. This is the responsibility of the European Commission with the support of The Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA),” said Warinsko.

“However, the SESAR Deployment Alliance will continue working with the Implementing Partners in further improving the transparency and documentation of the clusterisation process leading to the submission of applications for EU grants to INEA.

Pointing to the achievements of the SESAR Deployment Manager, Warinsko said that just five years after PCP Implementing Regulation adoption and three years ahead of major initial deadlines, nearly 90 per cent of the Regulation is either completed (28 per cent), ongoing (44 per cent) or planned (17 per cent) which is ‘unprecedented proof of high buy-in, content-wise and process-wise, by the ATM community’.

“Moreover, on top of the €1.3 billion of EU funding invested to date into PCP deployment, the stakeholders have invested €1.6 billion, jointly leveraging a total investment of close to €3 billion. Whilst this is the usual level of investment by involved stakeholders, this is an unprecedented coordinated and synchronised focus of these investments on the objectives fully driven by the EU priorities,” said Warinsko. “This is this unequalled level of preparation and anticipation by all impacted civil and military stakeholders which constitutes the actual benefit of EU funding invested into PCP deployment.”

He said the SDM is conducting actual measurements of contributions to performance with operational stakeholders on operational data. Applied to the already completed 113 implementation projects, the results are available on SDM’s website.