Industry has generally welcomed the European Commission's "Second Package" of Single European Sky (SES) legislation, which is designed to pressurise states to raise their air traffic management performance standards.

But according to expert observers, many of the package's objectives are politically unrealistic and do not address any of the flight delays that afflict Europe's ATM systems by virtue of operational inefficiencies at the airline level.

The SES legislative package was drawn up largely on the basis of recommendations, published last year, from the EC High Level Group (HLG) on the Future of Aviation Regulation in Europe - another document that was broadly welcomed by all sectors of the commercial air transport industry. Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO) secretary general Alexander ter Kuile, a member of the HLG, says the second package does not meet all the HLG's hopes for it (see box), even though it contains good material.

International Air Transport Association director general Giovanni Bisignani says the EC's adoption of the Single European Sky II package is a "welcome response to IATA's call for governments to act quickly to eliminate inefficiencies in air traffic management".

EC vice-president for transport Antonio Tajani says the new legislative package is based on four "pillars":

Binding performance targets - with deadlines - for air navigation service providers (ANSP). This would produce a projected 10% improvement in ATM efficiency, enabling airline fuel savings through shorter routes and less delay, cutting carbon dioxide emissions by 16 million tonnes a year.

The introduction of new technology based on the SESAR Master Plan.

Improved standards of ATM safety despite handling more traffic.

Legislation requiring Europe's airport capacity shortage to be addressed through investment and efficiency gains.

Ter Kuile, warns, however, that ATM-caused delay is only 3.5% of the delay total, whereas flight delays caused by the airlines amount to 50%. His argument is that if the SESAR-predicted cost of euros 2.1 billion ($3.3 billion) addresses only 3.5% of the problem, the plan is incomplete.

Source: Flight International