Emma Kelly/LONDON

Europe is on course for implementation of its Link 2000+ programme from 2002 following approval of the plan by European air traffic service (ATS) providers and support from airlines and aeronautical communication service providers.

Eurocontrol's Link 2000+ is designed to lead to the deployment of operational mobile datalink services for air traffic control (ATC) and airline operational communications across the continent (Flight International, 11-17 April).

The programme is considered vital for capacity enhancement, with datalinking promising reductions in communication workload and increased reliability. The Link 2000+ business case states that without the widescale implementation of datalink services, European air traffic delays will increase 25% a year until 2005 and 10% each year between 2005 and 2010.

The Link 2000+ master plan was endorsed by Eurocontrol's air traffic management/communications, navigation and surveillance consultancy group in September, while the Chief Executive Standing Conference, which comprises the chief executives of Europe's air navigation service providers, endorsed the plan in early November, says Alex Wandels, Eurocontrol's Link 2000+ programme manager. The go-ahead by these groups effectively launches the implementation programme, he says.

The master plan and business case were due to be presented to Eurocontrol's council on 9 November, but the issue has been pushed to the spring 2001 meeting while information on institutional aspects, including charging issues, is disseminated.

"There is no impact to delaying it [presentation to the council], the programme will continue regardless," Wandels says, although he concedes that council endorsement would add political weight to the programme.

Eurocontrol wrote to the decision makers of airlines, ATS and communication service providers earlier this year and has received a "positive response" to the masterplan, he says. ATS support has come from many countries, while airlines such as British Airways, KLM, Air France, American Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Qantas endorsed the programme.

Airframers Airbus and Boeing, and aeronautical communication specialists ARINC and SITA, also gave their support to the masterplan.

Eurocontrol asked airlines, ATS and communication providers three questions on whether they support the Link 2000+programme, whether they would participate in it and whether they had the budget to do so. "The task now is to put airlines together with air navigation service providers for implementation," says Wandels.

Source: Flight International