At last a much-needed regulatory process for Europe's air navigation organisation is on the horizon with the long-awaited release for industry comment of the Eurocontrol notice of proposed rule making (ENPRM).

Eurocontrol has been crying out for power for some time, recognising that it cannot successfully implement vital air traffic management (ATM) improvements across the continent without such a process. History has shown that states and aircraft operators cannot be relied on to meet new ATM rules without allowing those affected to have a formal say and ensuring that they are made aware of the relevant dates and details in a formal process. The fact that the introduction in 1998 of basic area navigation, designed to reduce the continent's traffic bottlenecks, was postponed twice due to low operator compliance for a variety of reasons, while the implementation of 8.33kHz radio channel-spacing failed a number of times, bear witness to the difficulties Eurocontrol, operators and states have faced without such an approach.

Eurocontrol has clearly done its homework on the process - spending more than a year on it and consulting industry on the right way ahead. There is no reason why an NPRM - a process that is well-established and works well for the US Federal Aviation Administration and Joint Aviation Authorities - should not be applied successfully to Europe's ATM regulations.

Eurocontrol has fulfilled its task in producing a detailed proposal, but now it is up to states and the industry to play their part to ensure the process that is put into practice meets everyone's requirements and stands any chance of working. Industry has been given its say in the process and it must take up the challenge if the continent has any chance of resolving its dire ATM problems.

Source: Flight International