Single European Sky

New challenges in the air transportation, such as reduction of delays, improvement of safety standards, lowering of the air services costs and reduction of aviation environmental footprint, proved to be too demanding for the existing European airspace due to the fragmentation and inefficiency of the European air traffic management systems and related air navigation services. In order to respond to those challenges, the EU member states have launched the so-called Single European Sky (SES) initiative in 2004. The aim of the initiative was to establish air traffic management that would disregard national borders and create single European airspace, while achieving following objectives:

a) Improve safety performance by a factor of 10,

b) A three-fold increase in capacity where needed,

c) Reduce the costs of ATM services to airspace users by 50 %,

d) A 10% reduction in the effects flight have on the environment.

Regulatory framework for the implementation of SES consisted of four regulations:

  • Regulation (EC) 549/2004 laying down the framework for the creation of Single European Sky,
  • Regulation (EC) 550/2004 on the provision of air navigation services in the single European sky
  • Regulation (EC) 551/2004 on the organisation and use of airspace in the single European sky, and
  • Regulation (EC) 552/2004 on the interoperability if the European Air Traffic Management network.

SES 1 regulatory package was amended in 2009 (SES 2) when competence – based mechanisms were introduced (Regulation (EC) 1070/2009). The regulatory framework was further amended with EU rules on air traffic safety (and corresponding competence of the European Air Safety Agency – EASA), with regards to air traffic management, air navigation services and safety of airport procedures. At the same time, European Commission has adopted a series of implementing rules and technical standards.

Development of new technologies to increase capacity and lower costs of the European airspace shall be facilitated through the SESAR joint undertaking (SESAR; Single European Sky ATM Research). Single European Sky has established the legislative framework that will meet all future needs regarding safety, capacity and efficiency at the European level, rather than at the national levels. The purpose of the SESAR is to provide technical and operational solutions that will facilitate achievement of such objectives.

In addition to SESAR and in order to facilitate implementation of the Regulation (EC) No 551/2004 on the organisation and use of airspace in the single European sky, European Commission has adopted Regulation (EC) No 2150/2005 laying down common rules for the flexible use of airspace (FUA). The flexible use of airspace concept is currently being developed (strategic development is governed by the ministers of transport and defence and National Airspace Management Committee established by the decision of the Government of the Republic of Croatia (Official Gazette 116/09, 93/10, 126/10, 91/11, 76/12, 28/13), while the implementation of pre-tactical and tactical level shall take place in 2014. More on FUA concept.

Furthermore, to increase efficiency of the airspace use, the working group at the level of the Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure, together with the Agency, is developing performance based navigation concept that will optimize routes and introduce new approach technologies for instrument landing system. More on PBN concept and future regulations.

Finally, in order to contribute to the sustainable development of air transport system and improvement of the overall efficiency of the air navigation services, the SES Performance Scheme will be developed. Regulation (EU) No 390/2013 laying down performance scheme for air navigation services and network functions (SL L 128, 9.5.2013) defines that the performance plans for the following reference period should be established on the level of functional airspace blocks.