Air transport is facing many challenges such as increasing demand, larger airports, increased network congestion, etc. which also need to be reconciled with environmental issues. Hence there is a need for smarter solutions at service, operational and technical level.
One of the important players within aviation is Air Traffic Management (ATM). Since 2004, the European Union gained competences in ATM. The main objective of the EU is to reform the European ATM system in order to cope with sustained air traffic growth under safe, cost-efficient and environmentally friendly conditions. The Single European Sky (SES) initiative aims to re-structure the European airspace as a function of air traffic flows, create additional capacity and increase the overall efficiency of the ATM system. The European Commission has set ambitious goals for the SES in 2012 to be reached by 2020, including a 3-fold increase in airspace capacity and a cost reduction of at least 50% for the provision of ATM services.
However, today’s progress towards SES objectives is perceived as slow: the steps taken towards enhanced collaboration between various air navigation service providers (ANSPs) are sometimes considered ineffective, the implementation of functional airspace blocks (FABs) to defragment the European landscape of national ANSPs and enable economies of scale has had limited success, and the R&I cycle is still too long. In this context, the question of how to provide the appropriate organizational structures, institutions and incentives for new operational concepts and technologies to yield the expected results stands high on the European policy agenda.