SESAR Deployment Speech by Bo Redeborn, Principal Director ATM

"There is a saying among pilots that particularly useless things include altitude above you, runway behind you and air in your fuel tanks.  I’d like to add another one to this list – a development that hasn’t yet been implemented. 

We all agree that it’s vital to get deployment right, particularly in the case of a huge programme such as SESAR.  However, it’s not easy – in fact we can see that, in many ways, it’s actually much harder than development.  For example on deployment you have to involve everyone – not just the subset of stakeholders who volunteer to help on development.

It also involves a lot more money, some 30 billion euros and money, as we all know, is in rather short supply at the moment.

And of course, it’s not a quick exercise.  We can expect to be working on the deployment of SESAR for the next decade – well beyond the end of the development phase.  So we need to make sure that the mechanism we put in place works – and that it is robust.

So what do we need to do?  Well I believe a critical first step is to learn from experience both here in Europe and elsewhere. 

Within Europe, we’ve seen deployment of some projects move ahead rapidly while others never seem to get going at all.  This can happen even if the development phase of the project has been a success – a good example of how the issues facing deployment are very different to those facing development and how the transition from one phase to the next needs to be carefully handled.

 There are many reasons for deployment being slow – for example sometimes there has been a lack of clarity on standards and guidance material. Safety cases have been difficult to conclude.  Sometimes the business case has not been made or the benefit has been remote from the investment.  We’ve also seen the delays caused by airlines, albeit understandably, adhering to the doctrine of last mover advantage.

Indeed, there is now general acceptance that some public funding will be required to overcome this doctrine.  However, public funds are limited – particularly at the European level – and they need to be focused where they will do the most good.  Here, there may be some valuable lessons to be learned from the approach to incentivising equipage in other parts of the world.

Another reason for problems has been poor deployment planning.  Now, we already have a raft of plans – the Network Strategic Plan, the ATM Master Plan, Performance Plans, the Regulatory Roadmap to name just a few.  We need to make sure that our new deployment process is coherent and that all the planning is coordinated.  We’ve tried having a proliferation of plans before and it didn’t work.

So we have to take into account the existing mechanisms as we move forward.  I’m not saying that these existing mechanisms can’t be changed – far from it, we need to be willing to change.  But we cannot just bolt on a new set of processes and plans without considering the effect on what’s already there and without looking at the whole picture.

This sort of wider view is crucial for success in other ways as well.  Deployment needs to be coordinated on a pan-European basis across the whole network – both on the ground and in the air, and also working with our military and our general aviation colleagues.  In fact, for many aspects, we actually need to think wider than Europe – we need to make sure that our needs are reflected in the ICAO processes designed to achieve global interoperability.

That is why we at EUROCONTROL, together with our stakeholders – indeed with many of those in this room today, are actively preparing for ICAO’s Air Navigation Conference at the end of next year – to make sure that there is a single European voice and that it is heard.

I mention working with our stakeholders on ANC12 not just because that’s what’s happening but also because it is a good illustration of how a joint approach really adds value.  However, there are limitations to a purely collegiate approach.  As a sailor myself, I strongly believe that you still need a clear direction to steer and a firm hand on the tiller.

You also need to recognise that deployment is a challenge – it is a complex web of equipment, manufacturing, procedures, training, regulation, guidance material and of course finance.  Planning for it, working out how it can best be achieved, has been an integral part of our activities at EUROCONTROL for many years.

But we at EUROCONTROL have always taken pride not just in our professionalism but also in our independence.  I try to make sure that we approach problems with the question “What’s best for European ATM?” and not “What’s best for this part of the sector?”.  Of course, we are fortunate in that we are not just allowed to be independent, it’s actually expected of us – without independence we could not function in our various roles, such as the Network Manager.

The consultation paper marks a step in the debate we now need to have on how to get this difficult thing right. And it follows from a Task Force report that did seem to me to get most things right - the three level approach and so on.  But it was always apparent that it was the second level that was going to be the most difficult to fix. And so it is there that we need to devote most effort. 

Industry has to have a key role here. But how do you associate all those that need to be involved?  And how do you ensure that the work done genuinely meshes with the ATM Master Plan and the Network Strategic and Operations Plans? These and other questions need more work, in particular to ensure that the Network Manager is firmly part of the partnership that is necessary at this level, if it is to succeed."

So on this occasion I would like to urge everyone to put aside their own agendas and to come together to address the question “What is best for European ATM?”.  Because, in the long run, we all need a sustainable, healthy and successful European ATM system."

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