The Single European Sky is a European Commission initiative by which the design, management and regulation of airspace will be coordinated throughout the European Union (ECAA area).
This is expected to benefit all airspace users by ensuring the safe and efficient utilisation of airspace and the air traffic management system within and beyond the EU. Airspace management is planned to move away from the previous domination by national boundaries to the use of 'functional airspace blocks' the boundaries of which will be designed to maximise the efficiency of the airspace. Within the airspace, air traffic management, while continuing to have safety as its primary objective, will also be driven by the requirements of the airspace user and the need to provide for increasing air traffic. The aim is to use air traffic management that is more closely based on desired flight patterns leading to greater safety, efficiency and capacity.
Air traffic management in the European Union is largely undertaken by member states, co-operating through EUROCONTROL, an intergovernmental organisation that includes both the EU member states and most other European states as well.
European air space is some of the busiest in the world, and the current system of air traffic management suffers from several inefficiencies, such as using air traffic control boundaries that follow national borders, and having large areas of European airspace reserved for military use when in fact they may not be needed.
In October 2001, the European Commission adopted proposals for a Single European Sky, to create a Union regulator for air traffic management within the EU, Norway and Switzerland. The Union regulator will merge upper European airspace, currently divided into national regions. It will organise this airspace uniformly, with air traffic control areas based on operational efficiency, not national borders. Also, it will integrate civil and military air traffic management.
There are discussions about enlarging the initiative to cover the Balkan and Mediterranean states.
In June 2008 a revision of the SES regulations were adopted, called SES-II. Focus is here on four areas:
The SES-II aims at implementing FABs as a mean for providing better performance, etc..
Spain has blocked the inclusion of Gibraltar Airport in the Single European Sky, meaning the whole package is suspended.
- November 2000 - establishment of the SES regulation.
- June 2008 - SES-II regulation adopted.
The air travel disruption after the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption caused the acceleration to integrate the national air traffic control systems into the Single European Sky and the immediate creation of a crisis coordination group to handle future transport disruptions.
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