FAB CE aligning strategy with WPG report, airspace study

The FAB CE functional airspace block is to align its portfolio of cooperative programmes with the Wise Persons Group and the SESAR JU’s Airspace Architecture Study, preparing for a new development strategy in early 2020.

“Functional airspace blocks such as FAB CE will have to play a pivotal role in translating these high level strategies into operational programmes, ensuring the priorities of the European Commission, Eurocontrol, the SESAR JU, states and air navigation service providers are all taken into account,” said Matej Eljon, FAB CE programme manager and director of FAB CE Aviation.

In April, FAB CE established a task force to study further areas of regional cooperation with the aim of establishing an airspace design optimised for all airspace users. The new development strategy will be launched in the first quarter of 2020.

The Airspace Architecture Study, or AAS, was published in March by the SESAR JU in coordination with the Network Manager. It contains proposals to address airspace capacity and resilience challenges by combining airspace configuration changes and new technologies to decouple the service provision from the local infrastructure, by enabling cyber-secure data sharing and by increasing progressively the level of automation support.

The European Commission’s DG MOVE established a Wise Persons Group on the future of the Single European Sky (SES) and in April 2019 the group delivered its ten recommendations. These included new ways of accelerating the implementation of a Digital European Sky, establishing a seamless European (Upper) Airspace System including a common route charge system, creating a new market for ATM data service providers, using the performance and charging scheme to support the digitalisation of air traffic services and simplifying economic regulation.

The latest FAB CE social dialogue forum gave social partners an opportunity to provide their input into the proactive approach being taken by FAB CE not merely to react to the changes but actively help shape them, especially through regional cooperation.

Dr Valerie Hackl, chairperson of the FAB CE CEO Committee (CEOC) reported on the conclusions of the latest CEOC meeting and the work underway to develop the new FAB CE strategy. “Our aim in FAB CE is to be proactive, not merely to react to the changes but actively help shape them, especially through regional cooperation.”

Eljon presented a transition plan to align FAB CE ATM services with the goals of the high-level study. He updated delegates on progress on the many common technical activities underway within FAB CE, including the common procurement programme, datalink upgrade plans, the results of the flight level adherence project and the initiation of an operational excellence programme underway to identify, in particular, best practices among FAB CE ANSPs to increase capacity.

“FAB CE is moving away from its original political structure to a more operational, airspace-alliance profile,” he told delegates.

Zoran Jakšić from Croatia Control outlined the conclusions from the workshop on controller fatigue and stress prevention and management held in May 2019, and the new mitigation programmes – such as defining minimum rest periods and roster profiles preventing and alleviating the negative effects of stress on controllers – which FAB CE ANSPs are individually developing to deal with these challenges by the start of 2020.

Andrea Sack-Nirschl, of the FAB CE Safety sub-committee gave an update on safety management activities underway, including moves to initiate more cross-border safety investigations and cross-border safety surveys. She presented the results of a company mobile device (CMD) usage survey which looked at how individual ANSPs have developed policies on the use of CMDs in operational areas.