Eurocontrol is stepping up its activities to implement a European notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) process. The air navigation organisation is working towards introducing formal contractual arrangements with air traffic management (ATM) service providers after proposals from Eurocontrol's council were approved last month.

A European NPRM, which would allow Eurocontrol to enforce much-needed ATM policies, has long been considered by the industry as essential if Europe is to resolve its air traffic control problems.

The organisation has conducted extensive work on introducing a regulatory process (Flight International, 29 September-5 October).

Meanwhile, formal contractual arrangements with national or regional ATM service providers will commit them to delivering agreed capacity increases. Some ATM service providers have failed to meet their capacity targets, causing traffic bottlenecks in many parts of Europe.

These agreements will "reinforce the organisation's decision-making power, thereby ensuring the optimisation of the capacity of the European [ATM] system as a whole", according to Eurocontrol.

Since the organisation has no power to force national air traffic services (ATS) providers to sign contracts, the proposal involves "signed commitments" from the provider, involving agreed capacity targets and standards of service, according to Eurocontrol Central Flow Management Unit director Dirk Duytschaever. Eurocontrol says that such an agreement was struck with Greece to improve its ATS provision and that it has "worked well".

Eurocontrol has begun short-term (one year) capacity planning to optimise the use of ATS capacity in the light of air traffic control delays this year, but the council has extended this to the medium term (two to five years).

Source: Flight International