InterFAB Cooperation: Common tool for ATSEP standard assessment delivered

atsep 2ATSEP (Air Traffic Safety Electronics Personnel) training managers from FAB Central Europe and FAB Europe Central together with their colleagues from NATS have developed a new common pool of assessment questions to standardise the assessment process for ATSEP training. The objective of this InterFAB initiative is to fill the gap between the requirements defined in the EU Regulation 2017/373 that describes the minimum requirements, but does not define in which way air navigation service providers have to train their staff. To standardise this process, training experts have defined a question pool for the ATSEP basic training containing more than 600 validated questions to be used by the partners The first ATSEP basic assessments have been conducted; this demonstrated the high quality of the questions with respect to comprehensibility, clearness, depth and relation to training objectives.

The QUASAR (QUestionnaire for ATSEP Standard Assessment Routines) initiative, working as the QUASAR Task Force (QTF) is behind the initial idea launched by FABCE partners ANS Czech Republic, Austro Control, BHANSA, CANI, Croatia Control, Hungarocontrol, LPS Slovakia and Slovenia Control. FABEC is represented by DFS, ENAC and Skyguide. In addition, NATS joined in 2015. Based on this first successful step, the QUASAR Task Force started the process of generating question pools for the 17 qualification streams as defined in the EU regulation. The question set for the first stream “Qualification Shared” is expected to be finalised by the end of 2017. Beside this, QUASAR members offer a web based platform to conduct on-line assessments.

The current status of the QUASAR initiative will be presented to a broader audience at the FABEC Training Conference which will take place in Amsterdam on 26/27 September 2017.

FABCE Cyber Security Experts meet to explore cooperation, harmonisation of programmes

cyberThe FAB CE Cyber Security Experts, comprising FABCE information technology (IT) security managers (ITSO) and chief information security officers (CISO) from the seven FAB CE air navigation service providers (ANSPs), met in Vienna on 29 June for the first time, to exchange views on cyber security challenges and examine potential areas of cooperation.

ANSPs face a number of major cyber security challenges apart from the most obvious one of protecting company and operational networks from cyber-attacks. In Europe there are a wide number of working groups set up to pioneer work in this area – including programmes under way within Eurocontrol, the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO) and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) – and one of the roles of the FAB CE Cyber Security Experts is to ensure there is no duplication or effort and to agree on areas of cooperation with the different initiatives under way.

“One of most important challenges is to ensure we have the same open exchange of security information as we have on the safety side,” said Harald Stainoch, Deputy Corporate Security Officer (CSO) at Austro Control and project manager of the organisation’s information security enhancement project. “I think we are one or two or three steps behind in this regard. We all have security challenges but, for understandable reasons, there is a reluctance to share them. The problems are well known but the range of work in IT security is a huge one and I suspect we are at different stages of development.”

While work has begun as part of a Eurocontrol programme to harmonise security protocols around message transmission within the FAB, all European ANSPs face similar challenges in understanding the best way to harmonise programmes and understand the appropriate level of resources required to meet the challenges.

“For the time being the meeting of the FAB CE Security Experts will be focused on the exchange of information - presenting the state of play within each ANSP and perhaps outlining roadmaps for further development,” said Harald Stainoch. “We will, most importantly, be looking at the best ways we can help each other and freely share our best practices in FAB CE.”

FAB CE completes first joint equipment procurement

x boneThe FAB CE legal entity, FCE Aviation Services, signed its first equipment contract on behalf of six FAB CE member states on 26 June 2017. 

S&T Slovenija was selected following a competitive tender, issued in May, to deliver common regional telecommunications infrastructure to six air navigation services providers (ANSPs) to support seamless exchange of data between FAB CE member states. Under the single contract, the company is supplying common CISCO routers, in addition to support services for each user, directly to each country in the weeks ahead. The new routers replace an existing equipment network – due renewal – which is used to ensure seamless exchange of a range of messages including surveillance data, aeronautical messages, and to support On-Line Data interchange (OLDI) between FAB CE member states.

FCE Director Matej Eljon said: “We have completed our first infrastructure joint procurement with very good results. We’ve proved we can deliver common smart procurement at a price that meets our expectations.” The activity not only saved money compared to individual procurement country by country, but also secured a lower than estimated common price. The process is now available for use to carry out other smart procurement projects in the future.

To reach this point, FCE had to develop a process in-house that could be used to prepare common technical requirements. In addition, it established a way for ANSPs to be part of the approval process, and to execute the procurement. The work was completed over several months, and concluded with recommendation of the winning bid by the Procurement Assessment Committee. “The process was not there before so we had to invent the process internally,” said Matej. “Now we have proved that it works we are ready to execute procurement with much shorter lead times.”

Smart procurement is a key enabler for the harmonisation and optimisation of FAB CE operations, one of three high level initiatives set out in the FAB CE Strategy, along with safety and performance monitoring, and stakeholder communications. These activities are detailed in 15 FAB CE Strategy objectives which provide the framework for all FAB CE projects. The tasks and projects are updated regularly to ensure they are aligned with the Pilot Common Project, and reflect the goals of the broader European ATM Master Plan.

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.

Interfab communications workshop in Langen

IMG 3969 smallOn June 7/8 an Interfab Communications Workshop took place in Langen on the premises of DFS. Representatives from all FABs took the opportunity to discuss planned or ongoing communication activities, best practices as well as a interfab communication strategy.

It was noted, that the FABs are performing well, but that this information is not reaching the public. FABs should focus on 2-3 main messages which include punctuality, common projects and overarching topics that influence ATM such as weather and traffic volatility. Communications of these main messages should be intensified by all FABs, in order to gain more public recognition.

Comm group smallFAB CE Communication Managers had two presentations. Markus Pohanka gave an introduction to the new FAB CE Communication Strategy, describing the main milestones, including the newly developed communication process, the identification of relevant target groups, the intensification of social media activities and the relaunch the FAB CE Website. Peter Schmidt in his presentation focused on the recently published EU FAB Study and its implications in terms of communications.

Other items on the agenda included presentations on best practices in communications by the Baltic FAB and Blue Med FAB as well as on performance related issues such as “Different views on performance benchmarking EU/USA”.

It was concluded, that in order for FABs to be heard it is important they speak with one voice and focus on common messages. Progress is being made and FABs have the results to prove it. The Interfab Communications Workshop was a first important step.

FAB CE performance improvements - how did we do?

FABCE is finalising its contribution to the 2016 European Commission’s Reference Period (RP2) Monitoring Report, due on 1 June 2017.

 L7 9095In the Key Performance Area (KPA) of safety there were, as for the previous year, no deviations from the targets established in the FAB CE Performance Plan.

In the capacity domain, FAB CE has significantly exceeded the target for en-route air traffic flow management (ATFM) delay per flight - 0.08 minutes per flight against a target of 0.29 minutes - despite the fact that in some FAB CE States traffic was significantly higher than expected. The crises in Ukraine and Syria meant that in Hungary service unit traffic was 18% above forecasts.

“The overall performance of all FAB CE states is constantly excellent, without any major disruptions or industrial actions,” said Matej Eljon, director of FAB CE Aviation Ltd.

The target value for the horizontal flight efficiency for FAB CE in 2016 of 1.94% was not reached as the calculated value was 1.97%. Nonetheless, the Network Manager (NM) evaluated that FAB CE met its commitments with respect to the environmental target in 2016 and said that FAB CE’s environmental performance criteria are in line with the expected European targets. The Network Manager recommended that the current implementation plans should be maintained, including cross-border free route airspace (FRA) implementation projects with adjacent functional airspace blocs.

Significant initiatives have been implemented focusing on further improvements in this area which will enable FAB CE to meet and exceed the target in the future. Other major achievements have been accomplished by implementing important milestones of SEEN FRA (South Eastern Europe Night Free Route Airspace), SAXFRA (Slovenian Austrian Cross-Border Free Route Airspace) and SEAFRA (South-East Axis Free Route Airspace) initiatives.

The FAB CE-wide measure of planned trajectory efficiency - although not targeted in RP2- shows an improvement from 3.41% in 2015 to 3.33% in 2016, showing the positive impact of permanent airspace design improvements such as free route and direct routeing implementations.

In terms of cost-efficiency, all States met or exceeded their targets for Determined Unit Cost (DUC) except for Slovenia, where lower inflation had a negative impact on the DUC despite the actual costs being lower than the target determined costs. Nevertheless, the aggregated FAB CE DUC is still well below the target.