Functional Airspace Block (FAB)

Air traffic management (ATM) in the European Union is still largely organised in a fragmented way, mostly according to national boundaries. This fragmentation limits capacity, adds to cost and, above all, can potentially affect safety.

The key to improved capacity and efficiency, enhanced safety and lower costs for air navigation services, is through enhanced cooperation and integration across borders. The establishment of functional airspace blocks (FABs) was aimed at fostering increased cooperation between and the integration of air navigation service providers, irrespective of national borders.

What is a FAB?

A Functional Airspace Block (FAB) is defined in the Single European Sky legislative package, namely Regulation (EC) No. 1070/2009 amending Regulation (EC) No. 549/2004, as an airspace block based on operational requirements and established regardless of State boundaries, where the provision of air navigation services and related functions is optimised through enhanced cooperation among air navigation service providers or, when appropriate, an integrated provider, always in a performance-driven perspective.

Defragmenting European airspace

The FAB concept was expounded in the first legislative package of the Single European Sky (SES I) as a principal means for reducing airspace fragmentation. The second legislative package (SES II) tackled the creation of FABs in terms of air navigation services provision, in addition to the airspace organisation issues.

Nine FAB initiatives have been established to date:

  • North European FAB (NEFAB): Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Norway;
  • Denmark-Sweden: Denmark, Sweden;
  • BALTIC FAB Poland, Lithuania;
  • FAB Europe Central (FABEC): France, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg and Switzerland;
  • FAB Central Europe (FABCE): Czech Republic, Slovak Republic, Austria, Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina;
  • DANUBE: Bulgaria and Romania;
  • BLUE MED: Italy, Malta, Greece, Cyprus, as well as Egypt, Tunisia, Albania and Jordan as observers;
  • UK- IRELAND: FAB United Kingdom and Ireland;
  • South West FAB (SW FAB): Portugal and Spain.