Polish and Lithuanian air navigation service providers (ANSP) are launching a study to determine the feasibility of a Baltic functional airspace block in preparation for Single European Sky operating practices.

Polish ANSP Pansa and it Lithuanian conterpart Oro Navigacija say they are working with air navigation consultancy Helios to study the feasibility of a functional block in their joint airspace, including co-operation with neighbouring ANSPs.

The two service providers "have been co-operating on operational matters for many years", Helios reveals, and the formation of a functional airspace block has been under discussion since the concept first appeared in European Union legislation in 2004, and this feasibility study is due to report in September 2011.

Helios has been engaged to help identify the costs and benefits of setting up a block and the potential obstacles, as well as the wider economic implications of the co-operation.

Polish-Lithuanian co-operation is seen as only the first step. Helios points out that "there are substantial further improvements to be gained from co-operation with the pair's non-EU neighbours - the Kaliningrad region of the Russian federation, Belarus and Ukraine".

Although neighbouring Estonia and Latvia are not signed up to the feasibility study, Pansa president Krzysztof Banaszek says the study is a major milestone in the process of establishing and developing the Baltic functional airspace block. "We are committed to co-operate with our neighbours to provide tangible benefits to the SES, as well as to enhance the ANSPs' performance," he says.

The benefits of this co-operation have been recognised by the co-financing from European Commission funds.

Source: Flight International