European airspace management regulators have agreed a contract with industry covering the definition phase of SESAR, the newly renamed Single European Sky implementation programme formerly known as SESAME.

The deal clears the way for the cross-sector SESAR consortium – directed by Air Traffic Alliance, and expanded to comprise 30 members – to begin a definition-phase study to draw up six marker points for progress towards establishing a European air traffic management masterplan. It was unveiled by pan-European air traffic management organisation Eurocontrol director general Victor Aguado and European transport commissioner Jacques Barrot last week.

While the definition phase was formally launched at the Paris air show in June, negotiations on the contract had still to be finalised.

The two-year definition effort, jointly funded by the European Commission and Eurocontrol, will last until the end of 2007. Of the overall €60 million ($70 million) cost, the value of the contract to the SESAR consortium amounts to about €43 million.

Within four months the consortium aims to complete an overall analysis of the current air transport framework. Nineteen months in it hopes to have defined performance targets and concepts to meet these, as well as an implementation sequence for suitable strategies.

Over the final five-month period the masterplan will bring together recommendations from the air transport industry and draw up a firm work programme for initial implementation.

Air traffic management is a “fundamental task requiring adequate means”, said Barrot, adding that SESAR aims to produce a “technological leap” in the way European airspace is controlled, by optimising flight profiles, increasing automation and improving communications.

SESAR will treble the capacity of European air traffic control infrastructure, he added, resulting in a large reduction in delays, and halve the cost of airspace management. More efficient trajectories will also cut the environmental impact from aircraft emissions, reducing them by 4-6% per flight.

Definition of the masterplan will mark the first phase of SESAR. This will be followed by a development phase running to 2013 – costing around €300 million a year and financed by Eurocontrol, industry and the European Union budget – before an industry-funded deployment phase moves into effect between 2014 and 2020.

Air Traffic Alliance, the initiator of the original SESAME programme, includes Airbus, EADS and Thales. The SESAR consortium includes a number of airlines and airline associations, airport operators, air navigation services providers and industry partners.

Carrier representatives have strongly supported the SESAR initiative, but the European Regions Airline Association (ERA) has warned that the European Commission must not allow national interests to smother the programme. ERA director general Mike Ambrose says: “Europe’s airlines and their passengers cannot afford for SESAR to create just another report. It must result in implementing solutions.”


Source: Flight International