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FAB CE responds to Commission-sponsored study on FAB progress

ACC smThe FABCE management team has produced a consolidated response to the Study on Functional Airspace Blocks (FABs), compiled for the European Commission (DG MOVE) earlier this year.

The study concluded that “FABs have not met the high level policy objectives set by the Single European Sky legislation, despite the substantial efforts undertaken for their implementation” and proposed a series of recommendations to improve FAB performance.

“We think the recommendations for further development could represent a positive step towards clarifying the Commission’s position on FABs,” said Matej Eljon, director of FAB CE Aviation Ltd. “But we also believe that some of the specific recommendations related to FAB CE are already resolved or in the process of being resolved and that the general recommendations should be clearer, more focused and should remove the significant overlap between one other. We believe that progress has been made by FABs.”

The Study identified a number of perceived blockages which were slowing the development of FABs as envisaged in the Single European Sky II package of 2009. These included the adoption by FABs of the consensus principle, which has slowed the speed of decision-making; a lack of political will among States, which has meant air navigation service providers (ANSPs) have prioritized industrial partnerships over FABs; and a lack of sufficient consultation with customers, especially airlines.

“The proposal to allow decision making on a majority basis was considered at length in the development of the governance arrangements,” said Matej Eljon. “But we concluded that such an arrangement would be impossible in a regime in which individual enterprises are responsible for their own risk and liability of ANS services. However, specific decision making mechanisms might be needed to enable some activities only beneficial to a subset of FAB members, to prevent blocking the pursuit of these by other partners.

“FAB CE States have invested a lot in FABs and there is very real political will for FABs,” said Matej Eljon. “For obvious and very practical reasons States cannot be involved in all operational and technical matters of FAB decision making, and it should be seen as a positive and complimentary outcome that Industrial partnerships have emerged.“

Finally, in its letter of response to the Commission, the FABCE management team pointed out that while it supported strong airspace user involvement this relied on having the appropriate resources, background and understanding to develop and implement solutions. Some airspace users, in FAB CE’s experience, have lacked an understanding or willingness to find solutions to ANS challenges - for example, in the slow uptake of VDL2 and ADS-B equipage.

The letter of response asked for the Commission to provide a clear EU level articulation as to the policy objectives, priorities and expectations which should explain how the various elements of SES policy are envisaged to fit together - such as the performance scheme, FABs, competition and industrial partnerships.