Challenges of Growth

Coming soon!  We will publish the 2018 update of Challenges of Growth in June, with new forecasts, and fresh assessments of the capacity crunch, congestion and delay. And we will ask again how ready European aviation is for climate change. If you want to be on the mailing list when it comes out, contact

The aim of the Challenges of Growth series of studies is to provide decision-makers with the best-achievable set of information to support long-term planning decisions for aviation in Europe, with a particular focus on the capacity of the air transport network. Studies were completed in 2001, 2004, 2008 and 2013.

Challenges of Growth 2013

The Summary Report summarises the fourth Challenges of Growth study. It brings together the challenges that have been highlighted by seven detailed technical reports, of which the main ones are:

  • The Task 4 report "European Air Traffic in 2035" explores what aviation might look like in 2035 and what the challenges might be from this new 20-year forecast.
  • The Task 5 report "Mitigation of the Challenges" aims looks at a number of what-if? scenarios, or 'mitigation methods'. Each what-if? scenario explores a way in which the impact of the challenges might be reduced, hence reducing the unaccomodated demand.
  • The Task 6 report "The Effect of Air Traffic Network Congestion in 2035" takes a look at the effects of airport congestion on future delays.
  • The Task 7 report "European Air Traffic in 2050" is the first EUROCONTROL forecast of IFR flight movements in Europe up to 2050. It focuses on developments after 2035, as traffic evolution between now and 2035 is discussed in the above-mentioned Task 4. The 2050 forecast does not aim at providing the exact future traffic counts, but concentrates on understanding the factors that will form the future air traffic and the challenges that lie ahead.
  • The Task 8 report "Climate Change Risk and Resilience" considers the results of a stakeholder consultation to determine to what extent the industry considers adaptation actions are necessary to address the risks of climate change, and what actions are being implemented or planned. It also reviews climate change risks out to 2050, by which time the impacts are expected to be widely felt, and identifies several key actions which the industry can take to reduce those risks.

There are also two preparatory study reports:

  • The Task 1 report "on the use of the 20-year forecast published in 2010" looks at the implications of the recent economic and traffic downturn for the latest long-term flight forecast, published in 2010, and especially at the use of that forecast for the SESAR Master Plan update, among other studies.
  • The Task 3 report "Scope, Scenarios and Challenges" takes a broad look at a range of material that helps to set the context for the long-term forecasting. It aims to inform discussions in other tasks, rather than to present a final decision.


Challenges of Growth 2008

The conclusions of Challenges of Growth 2008 were:

  • Airport plans are now better adapted to demand than they were four years ago.
  • There remains a significant airport capacity challenge, not least in delivering the plans already reported by airports.
  • Air traffic management needs to be ready to manage a highly-congested air traffic network.
  • High-speed train networks are of narrow applicability in reducing congestion; other mitigation actions appear more effective in this respect.
  • In addition to greenhouse gas emissions, local air quality and noise will remain significant challenges and will be compounded by the requirement to reduce emissions.
  • Climate change can change demand, and will also affect infrastructure and operations as the weather changes.

All in all, the European air transport system will have to become more agile to respond to the challenges of growth.

The main report was published in November 2008.

It is supported by the following technical reports:

Previous Studies were in 2004 and 2001: