European Parliament Advances Single Sky
The European Parliament in late March adopted a revised Single European Sky legislative package, which it said allows airlines to fly more efficient routes, shorten flight lengths, reduce delays and curb fuel burn.
Parliament said it expects European Union transport ministers to approve the legislation, paving the way for the regulations to go into action "before the summer." The revised Single European Sky package aims to replace some nationally run air traffic systems with more cohesive, EU-wide regulations "in key areas such as safety, capacity, flight, cost efficiency and environmental sustainability, through coordination and supervision of Member States' air traffic and the implementation of common rules and performance targets."
The European Commission last year proposed the new system for a Single European Sky, updating the package from 2004 and setting new performance targets for "air navigation service providers." The EC in a March statement said, "These measures will deliver safer, greener and more performing flights, with annual savings for airlines calculated around €4 billion by 2020."
In addition to setting new targets for air traffic performance and binding measures to ensure national progress, the legislation stipulates that Functional Airspace Blocks, which cut "across national frontiers to enable air traffic controllers to manage flights in a more rational way," must be established by June 2012. Parliament noted that nine such European "blocks" have been designed, "but it is felt that insufficient progress has been made." The legislation also expands powers of the European Aviation Safety Agency, established in 2002. The agency's functions initially were "limited to ensuring the airworthiness and environmental compatibility of aircraft but its mandate was progressively extended to cover all other fields of aviation safety." The new regulations broaden its powers to "ensure precise, uniform and binding rules for airport safety, air traffic management and air navigation services," and establish "harmonized rules" for air traffic and navigation.