What are the Centralised Services?
Even though Europe has succeeded in putting in place a pan-European air transport single market, European air traffic management (ATM) is still fragmented, inefficient and, when compared to other regions of the world, uncompetitive. With new systems being developed and introduced over the next decade, several of the services for handling data could be implemented centrally, rather than at a national level. This would:
- reduce the costs resulting from overlapping investments;
- improve performance;
- improve the level of interoperability;
- help put Europe at the cutting edge of ATM technology.
The Single European Sky (SES)
The EU has put in place a Performance Scheme in which each country has clear targets to improve their performance on cost, delays, the environment and (from 2015 on) safety. To help them in this, the European Commission is promoting:
- the creation of Functional Airspace Blocks (FABs), in which groups of countries work together to improve operational efficiency;
- the development of new ATM technologies as part of SESAR; and
- the work of the Network Manager (a role fulfilled by EUROCONTROL), which is generating efficiency through a more network-centric approach.
Many newly developed SESAR technologies will be implemented in the coming years. While the majority of these will have to be implemented at a local or FAB level, some make more sense at a central or network level, both in terms of operational efficiency and also cost. The Centralised Services identified by EUROCONTROL typically involve handling data and range from a service for trajectory planning in four dimensions to support for an improved and pan-European approach for effectively sharing airspace between civilian and military traffic. We estimate that using these centralised services could save from €1.5 to 2 billion in ATM costs over 10 years, as well as providing a more efficient service to airspace users.
Opening up the market
The development of Centralised Services will help to create a Europe-wide ATM market by tendering these services to consortia that include air navigation service providers and by providing the services beyond the EU boundaries to all 40 EUROCONTROL Member States.
Following the successful model already in use for services such as the European Aeronautical Information Database (EAD), EUROCONTROL as an impartial, pan-European body, would manage the new centralised services, thus providing the central coordination and the link to the Network Manager required.
Taking the CS forward
2015 saw a number of significant steps towards the establishment of centralised services in line with the Permanent Commission’s PC 14/83 Directive dated 3 February 2014, under which EUROCONTROL’s Member States tasked the Agency with assessing and demonstrating the operational, technical and financial feasibility of CS2, 3 and 9; and the development, implementation and demonstration of CS1, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8.
In 2015, the feasibility studies for CS3, CS8, CS9-1 and CS9-2, co-financed by the EC, were completed and delivered on time to INEA (Innovation and Networks Executive Agency) and the Member States. These studies address, among other things, issues relating to safety and security, governance, avoidance of monopolies, cost and benefit analysis, impact on stakeholders, financing and ownership. The Agency coordinated with the ANSPs of the A6 in order to ensure synergies and avoid overlap in the work done for CS8, CS9-1 and CS9-2.
By the end of 2015, 11 calls for tenders had been published, and bids received for six of them (CS1, CS4, CS6-2, CS6-3, CS7-2 and CS7-3). The bids for the remaining five services (CS6-4, 6-5, 6-6, 6-7 and 7-1) were received in the first quarter of 2016, and evaluations have all started with a view to awarding contracts in 2016.
In accordance with EUROCONTROL Permanent Commission Directive 15/88 dated 21 May 2015, CS8 has been merged into NewPENS (New Pan-European Network Service) which is the subject of a Common Procurement Agreement conducted by EUROCONTROL, with all interested ATM stakeholders from the EUROCONTROL Member States and other States within the ICAO EUR/NAT Region and bordering States. By the end of 2015, 34 civil and military organisations had signed the Agreement and are now part of the NewPENS project.
Coordination with interested ANSPs to progress the Air-Ground Data Link in Europe in line with the Pilot Common Project (PCP) has continued. EUROCONTROL applied for common 2015 CEF (Connecting Europe Facility) funding to develop the appropriate governance, financing and procurement arrangements and the technical specifications with a view to the timely deployment of the European Air/Ground Data Communication Services (EAGDCS). The setting up of a demonstrator to confirm the results of the feasibility studies is an essential element of the CEF application.
Coordination with EASA regarding the oversight and certification of the centralised services led to an agreement in May 2016 on the appropriate approach.
In 2015, the second three-day training course on centralised services was organised at EUROCONTROL’s Training Institute with many participants in attendance.
The CS programme continues to be coordinated and aligned with other key pan-European programmes such as the Deployment Programme.
The Agency is redoubling its efforts to bring all stakeholders together to move forward with this performance-enhancing European ATM collaborative venture which is expected to provide essential services for the benefit of all airspace users. This will clearly demonstrate Europe’s ability to be competitive on a world-wide basis.