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SESAR Incorporates Unique Public-Private Partnership To Modernise European Sky

By Ulrika Lomas, for, Brussels

10 December 2008

The Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR) programme is the technological answer to the major challenges posed by Europe’s air traffic management, the European Union (EU) has announced.

The aim of the SESAR Joint Undertaking is to ensure the modernization of the European air traffic management system by coordinating and concentrating all relevant research and development efforts in the Community.

Partnership, sustainability and user-drive are key concepts of the SESAR Joint Undertaking approach. Founded by the European Community and by EUROCONTROL, fifteen industries have already been pre-selected to join the Sesar joint undertaking, some of which include: AENA, Airbus, Alenia Aeronautica and DFS.

The SESAR programme came to life with the acknowledgment that Europe’s current air traffic control systems will soon be unable to cope with the growth in flight movements, the number of which will double by 2030. In 2007, about 10 million flights were registered, whilst the most likely scenario in the Eurocontrol report “Challenges of Growth” predicts an average growth of 2.7% a year between now and 2030; i.e. 20.4 million flights by 2030. At the same time, environmental awareness is rising – prompting the need for more efficient operations and better technology. The EU’s Single European Sky legislation has taken jurisdiction over air traffic management issues to Community level in a drive to coordinate the – critically needed – upgrade of European ATM systems.

Key to the SESAR concept is the “business trajectory principle” according to which the users and controllers of the airspace define together, through a collaborative process, the optimal flight path. Compared with today’s way of managing aircraft, SESAR represents a paradigm shift, attained in clear steps.

The EU has pledged to change the way it manages air traffic: no more skyways, just the most efficient trajectory – saving fuel and time.

The features of the SESAR concept include a dynamic rolling plan for continuous flight operations that ensures a common view of the network situation; full integration of airport operations as part of ATM and of the planning process; optimal trajectory management; new aircraft separation modes and system-wide information sharing.

Before the end of 2009, the SESAR Joint Undertaking will officially launch the “SESAR Label”. This will be an opportunity for all airspace users to integrate the SESAR concept of operations into their way of working.

Being SESAR-labelled, air transport industry operators will demonstrate that they take on responsibility and that they are already contributing to the improvement of their flight operations.

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