As a response to the dramatic growth in air travel witnessed in the last two decades, the European Commission passed two Single European Sky packages to create a legislative framework for European aviation.
What is the Single European Sky?
The European air traffic management (ATM) system currently handles around 26,000 flights daily. Forecasts indicate air traffic levels are likely to double by 2020. Moreover, European ATM costs an additional €2-3 billion every year, compared to other similar systems in the world. How will the European airspace accommodate the increasing air traffic flows, whilst cutting costs and improving its performance?
The answer came with the initiative of organising airspace into functional blocks, according to traffic flows rather than to national borders. Such a project was not possible without common rules and procedures at European level. The Single European Sky (SES) was born to meet this need.
Launched by the European Commission in 1999, its primary aim is to meet future capacity and safety needs through legislation. With the Single European Sky second package (SES II), a step forward was made towards establishing targets in key areas of safety, network capacity, effectiveness and environmental impact. The Single European Sky drove the transformation of the role of EUROCONTROL, which could become the Network Manager of the European ATM network.
On the technology side, SES is supported by the Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR) Programme, which will provide advanced technologies and procedures with a view to modernising and optimising the future European ATM network.
EUROCONTROL is assisting the European Union, contributing to both the regulatory and the technology elements of the Single European Sky, by:
drafting implementing rules, guidance and technical regulatory material for the implementation of SES regulations
assisting Member States in exercising their regulatory functions
identifying needs for new regulations for the complex new ATM technologies and procedures delivered by SESAR.