The European Commission (EC) has adopted a package of proposals on air traffic management designed to create a single European sky by December 31, 2004.
The objective: to crate a single European sky, using operating principles which are based on six main lines of action. The first identifies joint management of air space and is followed by the establishment of a strong Community regulator. Third, there would be a gradual integration of civilian and military management with, fourthly, the eventual creation of institutional synergy between the EU and Eurocontrol.
This would involve the use of modern technology and better co-ordination of human resources policy in the air traffic control sector.
The EC has also adopted three proposals concerning the first specific measures: provision of air navigation services, organisation and use of airspace and interoperability of equipment.
“Thanks to integrated management and closer co-ordination between operators, including military ones, it will also facilitate crisis management and increase flight safety and security,” said Loyola de Palacio, EC vice president with special responsibility for transport and energy.
The EC claims Europe enjoys a very high level of aviation safety. However, the constant increase in air traffic is putting pressure on safety, and this has consequences in terms of delays.
The technical measures taken to improve the management of air space in recent years have created additional capacity, but this is often rapidly outstripped by the growth in traffic. Europeans are now demanding a better quality of air transport service, especially in terms of punctuality, given that it is no longer the exception that flights are over half an hour late.
What is more, the attacks of September 11 in the US have demonstrated the need for better integration of security aspects in air traffic management through better integration and harmonisation of procedures and technologies and better co-ordination between all stakeholders, including military ones. Implementing the single sky will make it possible to prevent and manage crises more effectively.
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