SKYGUIDE : How do you see the relationship between the NM and individual air navigation service providers changing?
IACOPO PRISSINOTTI It has been vital that we establish a single value chain and gain new levels of trust with our stakeholder colleagues. It is our role as Network Manager to support our industry, to enable the industry to make key decisions about improving the performance of the network at their local level. Trust also means transparency, giving stakeholders access to all the relevant data they need. We have a clear roadmap for improving the performance of the network, which breaks down the programme into five-year tranches. For the next five years we will be focusing on our Operational Excellence programme to deploy new operational and technical services in sequence. This will be supported by regular stakeholder coordination through the Collaborative Decision Making (CDM) process to ensure the priorities are shared and supported by the operational stakeholders. We are constantly considering projects for Network improvement such as the Virtual Centre, the Ground-Based Augmentation System (GBAS) and the data link, to ensure the right priorities as agreed with the operational stakeholders. It is very important, for example, that we recognise the Virtual Centre as a concept that we need to foster and in particular understand the operating expenditures (OPEX) benefits as well as the capital expenditure (CAPEX) issues. There are cultural challenges with this that we need to address.
The biggest challenge we all face is the high level of comfort that some organisations feel with the status quo and not seeing the importance of moving to the next level.
And your relationship with the SESAR Joint Undertaking, SESAR Deployment Manager, airlines and airports?
IP We are working in an excellent way with the SESAR Joint Undertaking to create all the links between the operational excellence work plan and the research and development (R&D) programme. With regard to the SESAR Deployment Manager, during the summer we negotiated with the SESAR deployment alliance consortium – which includes Europe’s major airlines, airports and ANSPs – an agreement to integrate efforts. We identified the major areas where we will work together. Since I arrived in summer last year, my main priority was and is to focus on partnering with all the operational stakeholders. The output is that now the airlines and the airports are completely engaged together with the ANSPs and military in the operational stakeholders CDM process. This is a must if we want to ensure the successful modernisation of the air traffic management infrastructure.
How should ANSPs and NM ensure programmes like the Virtual Centre can be developed in a coordinated manner and not delayed?
IP The NM has the strategic and technical competence to facilitate it, but at the end of the day it needs to be the industry, ANSPs, that develops these ideas. We need to understand the level of support there is for particular programmes. The NM’s role is to ensure this discussion takes place then enable the technical and operational coordination. We want to facilitate the decision-making but not impose a decision on anyone. We are very supportive of the Virtual Centre model conceptually as it is very closely aligned with NM’s approach to developing its own integrated Network Manager (iNM) programme.
Are Europe’s ANSPs ready to deploy an ATM system where much of the critical infrastructure is owned by an industry service provider and located remotely?
IP In terms of convincing the slow movers it’s a question of demonstrating the facts. Facts are the only response to the status quo. Some ANSPs are already heading towards a digital platform concept but may not be culturally ready to accept another organisation taking ownership of infrastructure. So we are very keen to see how Skyguide – a mature and conscientious ANSP – will develop service-level agreements and resilience policies to make the concept work.
What have been the lessons of the Covid-19 pandemic for Europe’s ATM service providers?
IP The problem for Europe’s ATM system has never been with capacity but with scalability: how can the ATM infrastructure meet the needs of an aviation industry which by its nature is volatile? We first need to move towards a common operational way of working, standardising human machine interfaces (HMIs), for example, and developing common working practices in crossborder sectors which account for 30% of European airspace. I believe digitalisation will help here, encouraging ANSPs to develop common standards and procedures
We must use this crisis to develop a single workplan which everyone can commit to, using the best-in-class experiences. A network approach will guarantee a bright future for aviation and ANSPs. The old model is no longer sustainable and we must work together to adapt it – the alternative is centralisation, which no-one wants