Under current operating practice, virtually every country in Europe has its own air navigation service provider managing its sovereign airspace. The Single European Sky or SES is a European Commission initiative to reduce the present fragmentation of the continent’s airspace and harmonize its air traffic service delivery, with a view to enhancing overall system efficiency and safety. The European Commission has also launched a comprehensive parallel programme to the SES initiative called SESAR (standing for Single European Sky ATM Research), which is intended to harmonise and develop the continent’s present air traffic management infrastructure with a view to supporting the goals set for SES.
Europe’s air navigation service providers are constantly striving to further improve their operating performance. They can only meaningfully do so, however, provided the air traffic they are entrusted with is handled in larger contiguous airspace areas. To achieve this, the present airspace areas need to have their boundaries redrawn on the basis not of national borders (as in the past) but of user needs. The strict division between civil and military airspace also needs to be removed.
The best way to attain this objective is for the continent’s air navigation service providers to work together to create larger airspace areas that correspond to actual traffic flows and are organized according to operational criteria. These new airspace areas are known as functional airspace blocks, or FABs for short.
With its extensive experience in providing supranational air traffic services (in route-kilometre terms, around 40% of the flights it manages are in airspace outside Switzerland), in managing complex airspace and in integrating civil and military air traffic management, skyguide is ideally qualified and equipped to play a leading role in the further development of Europe’s air navigation services, and is already doing so today.
Certificated for SES
Skyguide also earned its Single European Sky certification in December 2006. This is a prerequisite for any air navigation service provider wishing to play a part in SES, and confirms that the provider in question meet all the requirements of both their national authorities and the European Commission in terms of safety and efficiency. SES certification also enables its holder to conclude the alliances and collaborations that are essential to the establishment of the functional airspace blocks envisaged under the SES concept.
With its SES certification, skyguide can continue to provide its air traffic services in Switzerland and in the adjoining airspace areas in neighbouring countries that have been delegated to its control. In addition, the company can provide the same air traffic services in any European country which is participating in the SES project.