European Parliament votes in favour of regulations, but adds number of amendments

The European Parliament has voted in favour of Single European Sky regulations, paving the way for their implementation in 2004. Members adopted a number of amendments, however, designed to ensure co-operation between the European Union (EU) and air navigation organisation Eurocontrol; co-ordination between civil and military air navigation authorities; and penalties for air navigation service providers and airlines which breach the regulations.

The parliament also amended the proposed law on noise classification of civil aircraft for the purpose of calculating noise charges, which they suggest should be implemented from 1 April 2004 - a year later than planned.

The Single European Sky is aimed at improving air traffic management (ATM) on the continent, reducing delays and improving safety by reorganising upper airspace.

European ministers considered five proposals which make up the Single European Sky - the framework for its creation; the provision of air navigation services; the organisation and use of airspace; the interoperability of the European ATM network; and the safety of non-European aircraft using EU airports.

They adopted an amendment demanding co-operation between the EU and Eurocontrol to ensure "regulatory synergies and consistent approaches" and to avoid any duplication of effort by the two organisations. Eurocontrol's current role is to co-ordinate flights, while control rests with national authorities. European transport commissioner Loyola de Palacio says under the Single Sky approach a "Community method" would be introduced whereby the European Council, Parliament and Com-mission would be involved in decision-making and "majority voting would lay down binding rules".

Parliament members also insisted that the defence interests of the 15 EU states be taken into account, and that penalties be imposed on air navigation service providers and airlines breaking Single Sky rules.

Changes to the noise classification include different noise charges at various times of day and compulsory noise charging at all airports.

The amendments are due to be discussed by the EU's 15 transport ministers early next month.

Source: Flight International