Eurocontrol's new director general, David McMillan, says 2008 will be "a pivotal year for air traffic management in Europe". Work to deliver the Single European Sky programme will accelerate after two major enabling events take place in early March, plus a renewed emphasis on total industry co-operation, which he is set on nurturing at Eurocontrol, McMillan told Flight International in an exclusive interview to be published in the 12-18 February edition.

The first of the two significant events McMillan cites is the adoption of the proposed "second package" of SES legislation from the European Commission the other will be the publication of the last two contracted "deliverables" from the Eurocontrol/industry research task force SESAR - namely the European ATM Master Plan, and the Work Programme for 2008-2013.

McMillan, who took over as Eurocontrol director general from Victor Aguado on 2 January, says he is pledged to accelerate the modernisation of the agency, mainly by increasing the involvement of airlines, airports, air navigation service providers and suppliers in Eurocontrol's work aimed at creating the shape of future ATM. This process has been embodied in SESAR, he acknowledges, but he insists that ongoing increased industry collaboration is an acknowledgement of the realities of modern ATM. McMillan says he is also pushing for greater transparency of everything Eurocontrol does, from accounts to governance.

McMillan says Eurocontrol will embody the belief that "the environment should be right up there, just below safety, as one of our prime objectives", pointing out that the agency has already done considerable research on feasible system improvements. "We already have the knowledge and expertise to deliver this," he adds.

He insists there is still a need for "more emphasis on performance from the service providers, and more of a pan-European focus on managing and optimising the network". He takes the example of functional airspace blocks - commonly held up as the single change most critical to the success of the SES programme.

"There has been a lot of good work started on FABs, but not much yet completed," he says. But there is the promise of progress, he adds. "If you can get better management of adjoining parts of the airspace, that helps." Both Eurocontrol member states and ANSPs are looking for the best ways to make this happen, says McMillan.

Source: Flight International