EU monitors question usefulness of advanced ATM in CIS

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European Union regulators monitoring the progress of programmes to test implementation of new technology in former Soviet states are questioning whether the rapid introduction of such technology is a wise move.

Under the Technical Assistance for CIS States (Tacis) programme the EU is funding the €1.9 million Southern Ring phase 2 programme to demonstrate the application of future air traffic management techniques such as automatic dependent surveillance (ADS).

But Tbilisi-based Tacis programme monitor Tengiz Gogelia says that the programme is raising queries among its participants.

He says: “There are some doubts concerning the sustainability of the project. According to interviews we had with partner organisations they consider it an interesting project but, at the same time, only realistic in a long term perspective.”

The Tacis monitors’ task is to check that the programme remains within its remit.

Gogelia admits that a combined regional implementation of technology could produce benefits but says that such a task could prove exceptionally difficult given the fundamental differences between the ten countries involved in the Southern Ring programme.

Gogelia said that there is a feeling that the Southern Ring states have existing air traffic issues which should take priority over the implementation of advanced systems.

While stressing that the Tacis monitors simply report feedback from interested parties, he says: “There are a lots of difficulties in this region. All these countries are in a transition period. If you compare their technical assistance with their current problems, they are not compatible. No doubt everybody would like to have this technology – the question is where and when it should be implemented.”

Tacis monitors report back on the programmes approximately every four months. The most recent report was issued at the beginning of this year.

But Southern Ring phase 2 project director Sture Ericsson says: “I don’t think they [Tacis monitors] really understand what this is all about because they have so much to oversee. It seems we’re having to fight them now.”

The Southern Ring programme is scheduled to finish this year and the EU will have to decide whether to continue funding the project.

Gogelia says: “Maybe Tacis will concentrate on more urgent problems. Controllers here are eager to receive training. This was the subject of the Southern Ring phase 1 programme, and they liked it very much.”

ATI acknowledges the assistance of British Mediterranean Airways (BMA) in visiting the Southern Ring states. BMA serves Baku, Bishkek, Tbilisi and Yerevan from London.