Northern European countries are proposing a radical redefining of Europe's future airspace that could see UK air navigation services (ANS) split into two.
Members of the Northern Upper Area Control Functional Airspace Block (FAB) - which includes Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway, among others - will present their vision of consolidated northern European services at this week's ATC Global air traffic control and management event in Amsterdam.
Speaking in Stockholm last week, Thomas Allard, chief executive of Sweden's ANS, said the northern FAB members were proposing wrapping half of UK air navigation services into their own - segmenting on the basis of service characteristics rather than actual airspace, and therefore not risking any controversial regulatory or sovereignty issues, in an effort to fulfil Europe's Single European Sky (SES) initiative.
"We want to create areas where our customers want the services," says Allard, adding that UK air navigation services out of Prestwick mirror the oceanic and low-density areas of many northern EU countries that have the same traffic pattern.
LFV director Michael Standar says: "The reasoning is very simple - services provided by [UK ANSP] NATS in the northern area are very similar, if not identical, to the services provided in the north European oceanic service area. The southern part, on the other hand, is a high-density traffic service area where the service is more or less identical to that provided in the central FAB initiative. From a service provider's perspective, it's a logical service divider and it probably wouldn't look so unattractive from a NATS perspective, having one foot in the feeder area and the other in the core area."
Eurocontrol's new director-general, David McMillan, said in January that the fundamental SES objectives, such as defining and implementing functional airspace blocks, were not progressing as expected and there was still a need for more emphasis on both performance from service providers and pan-European efforts to manage and optimise the network.
LFV's Standar says that because of the standard nature of the traffic characteristics, the northern FAB could be established by 2016, far earlier than SESAR 2020 implementation targets.