Single European Sky (SES)

No doubt about it, the SES initiative will have a big impact on the professional working environment of ATSEP in the near and long term. SATTA is not only following closely the development of the SES initiative, but is also working actively together with it's international association IFATSEA to represent the interests of it's members.

Today, the economic and financial crisis has resulted in lower air traffic numbers in Europe as expected when launching the SES initiative in 2000. The latest FABEC media release is reporting a stagnating number of flights in the last seven years. First signs of saturation and/or traffic redistribution to other areas in the world should lead the European decision makers to adapt their forecasts which were written in the SES initiative. The story goes on… SATTA will observe it with critical attention!

 What is the SES initiative all about?

European airlines are facing a steady decline of their income, caused by the high cost of kerosene, additional environmental taxes, low price carriers competition, etc. They also blame the heterogeneous Air Traffic Management of Europe as 'inefficient' and are putting continuous pressure to the national Air Navigation Service Providers to lower their costs by open their business to the open market and therefore competition, and finally reducing the number of ACC centers.

European air space is some of the busiest in the world, and the current system of air traffic management is using air traffic control boundaries that mostly follow national borders, and having large areas of European airspace reserved only for military use.

According to the European Commission, airspace management shall be planned to move away from the current domination by national boundaries to the use of 'functional airspace blocks' (FABs). The airspace shall be designed to maximise the 'operational efficiency' to provide for increasing air traffic, while continuing to have safety as its primary objective.

 History and development of the SES initiative

Following the increased delays to flights in Europe in the late 90's, the Single European Sky (SES) initiative was launched in 2000 by the European Commission. A 'High Level Group' was established, composed of senior representatives of aviation industry associations (lobbyists), Directors General of civil aviation administrations from European states (also representing the European Conference for Civil Aviation - ECAC and EASA) and the Director General of EUROCONTROL. Building on the recommendations of this 'High Level Group' report, the Commission drafted a legislative package at the end of 2001, to create a Union regulator for air traffic management within the EU, Norway and Switzerland.

The package was adopted by the European Parliament and Council in March 2004 and entered into force one month later. The SES package was promoted to reach following goals:

- Enhance safety and efficiency of air transport in europe
- Reduce delays by improving the use of scares airspace and airport resources
- Improve services and reduce cost to air transport passengers by reducing the fragmentation of the air traffic management in europe
- Improve the integration of military systems into the european air traffic management system.

As the implementation of the SES was lagging behind the expectations, mostly due to national political interests, the European Commission adopted a revision of the SES regulations in June 2008, called SES-II:

- The existing Single Sky legislation is sharpened to deal with performance and environmental challenges.
- The Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR) programme is to provide the future technology.
- The competence of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is to be extended to aerodromes, air traffic management and air navigation services.
- The ‘action plan for airport capacity, efficiency and safety’ is to be implemented thus providing ground capacity.









History of SES and reflection after 10 years: 

(German only)