Civil and military air traffic management leaders from six states have signed a declaration of intent to create a common functional airspace block for the core of Europe.

Authorities from France, Germany, Switzerland and the Benelux states signed the Functional Airspace Block Europe Central (FABEC) declaration in Bordeaux on 18 November.

In parallel, the respective air navigation service providers have signed an agreement that will be the basis for immediate co-operation to eliminate national borders as the boundaries of airspace blocks.

This, says the co-ordinating FABEC group, will improve air traffic management performance in the heart of Europe in terms of safety, environmental impact, capacity, cost effectiveness, routes, and military mission effectiveness.

The FABEC region handles today about 55% of all flights in Europe and covers some of the most complex traffic areas between the busiest airports, making the alliance "a major step" in the effective implementation of the 'Single European Sky' initiative.

In a feasibility study delivered in July, says the FABEC group, the potential positive impact of co-operation was validated. More than 230 specialists from the participating countries shared the opinion that the expected 50% growth in air traffic volume by 2018 could be handled at the same high level of safety.

The FABEC cooperation should mean that flight delays will be kept low, and emissions per flight will be reduced. This will be enabled by redesigning airspace structures for effectiveness rather than divisions of national responsibility. The group says a cost-benefit analysis shows potential cost savings of €7 billion ($8.8 billion) by 2025.

Redesign of internal FABEC cross-border areas is scheduled to be implemented by the end of 2011. Taking into account the positive results of the feasibility study report, by 2010 the signatories intend to finalise an international treaty as the main institutional framework for FABEC's implementation.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news