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Landmark Aviation Agreement Signed In Europe

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

08 December 2010

Ministers for Transport and high-level military representatives of Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland signed a landmark aviation pact, the FABEC States Agreement, in Brussels on December 2.

The agreement’s signing will establish a common functional block of airspace and organise air traffic management irrespective of national borders. With this agreement, the states put a framework in place for air navigation service providers to improve their performance in terms of safety, environmental impact, capacity, cost effectiveness, shorter routes and military mission effectiveness. FABEC, which will handle about 55% of all flights in Europe and covers the most complex traffic areas between the busiest airports, is a major step towards the Single European Sky programme (SES) which is being put in place by the European Commission. The FABEC States Agreement is expected to be ratified by 2012.

According to the dedicated FABEC site, by signing the FABEC Agreement the Contracting States commit to take the appropriate measures in particular in the domains of airspace, harmonization of rules and procedures, provision of air navigation services, civil-military cooperation, charging, supervision, performance and governance. To govern this broad scope of responsibilities, a FABEC Council composed of civilian and military representatives with clearly defined decision-making powers will be created. Based on its decisions, the Contracting States will establish the necessary national rules and procedures.

Furthermore as part of discussions, in July 2010, the FABEC states agreed to commence a study on the future institutional set up and governance of air navigation services. As of December, FABEC states had agreed the need for a clear framework including the creation of a common entity providing FABEC functions to enable the performance improvements required. In the coming six months further detailed work will be done on aspects like the legal setup, the involvement of the military, and the detailed scope of functions and services. A decision by FABEC members is expected on this aspect by July 2011, it has been confirmed.

To further strengthen the multilateral cooperation, the states will also sign a Memorandum of Cooperation between the six National Supervisory Authorities (NSAs). This will cover aspects such as the supervision of air navigation service providers and the establishment of a FABEC performance management system.

As a first step FABEC States are preparing a common FABEC performance plan to set concrete targets for the years 2012-2014 in the areas of safety, finance, environmental impact, capacity and military mission effectiveness, going a bit further than the EU-wide goals that the Commission will decide in cooperation with members states by the end of 2010.

A feasibility study undertaken in 2008 showed that FABEC cooperation will enable air navigation service providers to handle the expected growth in air traffic volume at the same high level of safety and punctuality as they do now. In addition, a cost-benefit analysis demonstrated a potential benefit (net present value) of EUR7bn for airspace users by 2025 – mainly based on more efficient routes and less fuel consumption. Additional benefits are expected for the environment and for passengers who want to travel safely and punctually.

TAGS: aviation

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