Andrii Yarmak

Andrii Yarmac, Chief Executive Officer, Ukrainian State Air Traffic Services Enterprise

24 December 2022 was the thirtieth anniversary of the founding of Ukrainian State Air Traffic Services Enterprise (UkSATSE). Over the past three decades, UkSATSE has provided air navigation services of the highest standards to thousands of flights daily in Ukrainian airspace and in the international High Seas area over the Black Sea, where responsibility for air navigation services provision is delegated to Ukraine under international agreements.

Today, Ukraine is going through the hardest times in its independent history. Therefore, we are more than ever in urgent need of the support and solidarity of the international community – support without which our freedom and common peaceful future are impossible.

We have witnessed horrific missile attacks on civil energy, utility and social infrastructures, as well as on the civilians of Ukraine.

At such a critical moment, UkSATSE, as the national air navigation service provider of Ukraine, has found itself in a challenging situation. It has a clear task of retaining the air navigation system (ANS) of Ukraine – preserving the personnel, as a core value, and equipment. Yet it has no funding for this. There are no sources of financing ANS in Ukraine at the moment as all available State budget resources are directed towards military needs and victory which is a prerequisite for the recovery of civil aviation. Commercial loan financing for UkSATSE is not feasible under such conditions.

Despite all cost containment measures applied by UkSATSE – including, unfortunately, the temporary suspension of employment contracts for all categories of personnel – the company’s pre-war reserves are exhausted.

However, UkSATSE continues its work, and such a miracle of resilience is a result of incredible teamwork of our supportive partners including the Ukrainian government, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the European Investment Bank which have collectively agreed on the loan restructuring and the release of funds previously blocked at the Debt Service Reserve Account for further loan repayment.

But the main overriding factor that allows Ukrainian ANS to face the future with confidence is the outstanding solidarity and support by all EUROCONTROL Member States, the Agency and the European Commission as expressed in the establishment of the European ATM Voluntary Solidarity Fund.

Last year’s decisions of the EUROCONTROL Member States to establish this Fund and authorise the Agency to use part of the unused 2021 budgetary credits to cover Ukraine’s 2022 contributions were more than vital. They enabled UkSATSE not only to preserve its core personnel and equipment, but also, in close collaboration with EUROCONTROL, to start the process of planning and implementing actions aimed at the fastest possible recovery of air navigation services provision in Ukrainian airspace immediately after the end of the war, having no doubts about the final victory of Ukraine.

Ukraine airport

Action plans

Following the decisions of the Government and the President of Ukraine in Spring 2022, UkSATSE started early planning for the safe recovery of ANS in Ukrainian airspace.

At the first stage, as an integral part of the infrastructure project for the recovery of the transport sector and economy of Ukraine, the Action plan of Ukrainian State Air Traffic Services Enterprise for air navigation services recovery in the airspace of Ukraine (or “Recovery Plan”) has been developed by UkSATSE and approved by the State Aviation Administration of Ukraine (SAAU) on 30 May 2022.

The 17 blocks of the Recovery Plan cover a full range of interconnected areas including safety and security, infrastructure, personnel, equipment, procedures and other service-related measures for the fastest resumption of UkSATSE services during the first recovery period with the minimum possible volumes, configurations and time intervals taken into account.

Jointly with EUROCONTROL, the areas for potential cooperation and support for UkSATSE were identified and the relevant implementation measures were included into the Action Plan between UkSATSE and EUROCONTROL for air navigation services recovery in the airspace of Ukraine (“Common Action Plan”) signed by both parties in Brussels on 24 November 2022.

Since March 2023, UkSATSE experts have been seconded to EUROCONTROL to implement the activities stemming from the Common Action Plan under the coordination of a dedicated EUROCONTROL/UkSATSE Task Force (“Task Force”) established to define and develop strategies for Ukrainian ANS reintegration into the European and global aviation network after the war ends.

The Task Force initiated several processes focused on UkSATSE operational personnel training, development of the future concept of operations specifically designed for the service recovery phase and review of the concept for communication, navigation and surveillance (CNS) services to be used during the first recovery period and later.

To adhere to safety standards, the development of a safety case dedicated to the recovery of services in the airspace of Ukraine has been initiated. The safety case will contain structured safety arguments to provide the required evidence of compliance with applicable risk management requirements and compliance of safety risk management procedures during the recovery of services in Ukrainian airspace.

Coordinating with the EUROCONTROL Network Manager team, UkSATSE and SAAU are seeking acceptable solutions for the performance of flight inspections of the ground CNS facilities that will be required in the ANS recovery phase.

Furthermore, strong partnership between UkSATSE and the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will ensure the arrangement of additional services for ATCO training, flight inspections of the ground CNS equipment and radar coverage improvements, as outlined in the Recovery Plan and the Common Action Plan.

Ukraine airport

UkSATSE personnel

Amid all the challenges, the most valuable asset that UkSATSE needs to preserve is its personnel.

Aiming to enhance the capacity of training and competency maintenance of operational personnel, as well as to provide for the possibility of renewing their medical certification and language proficiency endorsements, UkSATSE has launched a programme to create new secure capabilities covering simulator systems, training facilities and medical centre services.

Maintaining the competency of aviation specialists at the proper level and ensuring their readiness for further prompt recovery will also be achieved through online learning and on-site simulator-based training at the EUROCONTROL Aviation Learning Centre, ENAC's aviation school (France) and the EUROCONTROL Maastricht Upper Area Control Centre.

A number of other activities related to maintaining the competency of UkSATSE critical personnel are under development, including preparation for further training sessions to be provided by well-known aviation organisations and companies.

UkSATSE continues to follow all Ukrainian technical requirements and administrative procedures related to air traffic controllers licensing and certification implemented in accordance with Commission Regulation (EU) 2015/340. This allows, jointly with some EUROCONTROL Member States and EASA, studying European initiatives related to the crossborder utilisation of air traffic controllers in line with competence maintenance and training needed for the first ANS recovery period in Ukraine.

Funding

To date, based on the existing realities, the process of further funding of UkSATSE can be divided into two main blocks of tasks.

The first block is focused on finding solutions for financing and preserving core air navigation personnel and maintaining the ANS of Ukraine after 2023 if the war continues. In the present circumstances, Ukraine, having exhausted the alternatives, will be forced to appeal to EUROCONTROL Member States for further prolongation of the functioning and replenishment of the European ATM Voluntary Solidarity Fund for the period after 2023.

The second block is dedicated to the funding of the post-war recovery of the air navigation infrastructure of Ukraine. It includes, among other tasks, the seeking of grants and other kinds of support from potential donors including the European Union, international development organisations, funds and governments, ANS equipment manufacturers and leasing providers.

Conclusion

In conclusion, we would like to express our deepest gratitude and appreciation to all EUROCONTROL Member States for their standing with Ukrainian people and the support they are providing through the establishment of the European ATM Voluntary Solidarity Fund.

The heroic resistance of the Ukrainian people and the successful military operations of the Ukrainian army supported by unprecedented assistance from all the civilised world leave no doubt of the final victory of Ukraine. However, if circumstances do not allow Ukrainian civil aviation to resume operations after 2023, we will be forced to turn again to the Member States with the request to stand in solidarity with Ukrainian people and to prolong the functioning of the Fund for the necessary period.

Special gratitude is due to the EUROCONTROL Agency for the consolidated and unconditional support that the Director General and his team continue to provide. We strongly believe that after the war, EUROCONTROL will become a solid platform and coordinator for the recovery of Ukrainian ANS as an integral part of the European air navigation network.

Finally, we would like to express our warmest thanks to the European Commission, EASA, the FAA and all our other friends and partners which are making important efforts to restore Ukrainian ANS and thereby normalising the functioning of the entire European air navigation network.

We fervently hope to warmly welcome our longawaited guests to Ukraine’s peaceful skies at the earliest opportunity after the victory of Ukraine.

Ukraine airport

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