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Monday, October 10, 2011

Eurocontrol: EU, US ATM Need Funding

Eurocontrol's Director General David McMilian stressed the need to move towards performance-driven air traffic management (ATM) on both sides of the Atlantic.

In a speech last month at the European Institute on the future of European ATM, McMillan said the lack of governmental funding has stymied achieving global interconnectivity across the industry.

"Every state has to have a plan saying how it will contribute to reducing delays, reducing costs, and reducing emissions," said McMillan. "For the second reference point of the Performance Regime, from 2015, a safety target will be added as well. And these targets are tough."

Starting in 2012, as part of the new European Union Performance Regime, the EU will have binding targets on capacity, cost-efficiency and the environment. The regime is only possible through the Single European Sky (SES), which compares organizations performance to their plan and targets.

SES is an improvement but it is not the end all answer to controlling up to 39 member states air traffic navigation services, McMillan said. By using Functional Airspace Block (FAB), countries work together to create a larger area of airspace, managed and operated as a single block.

A control center at the Maastricht has been run by FAB for a number of years, which covers the upper airspace of Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and parts of Germany. Using FABs in these areas has improved efficiency, congestion due to planning how to best manage air traffic, McMillian said.

However, the use of FABs is limited despite the improvements made to route design. Other developments that have helped achieve performance targets is SESAR, the Single European Sky research and development program, similar to the FAA's Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen).

"It's vital that deployment is coordinated across the network -- and that's because we're looking to achieve benefits across the whole network, rather than piecemeal," he said. "We're currently going through a process of working out how we will handle the governance and financing of SESAR Deployment."

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