Interview

''We need to find the right balance between military and civil needs''

Civil Military

Major General Karsten Stoye starts work as Head of EUROCONTROL’s Civil-Military Coordination Division at a time of unusual market volatility, political uncertainty and technical change.

You are taking up your new role as Head of EUROCONTROL’s Civil-Military Coordination Division on 1 October at a time when civil aviation is under tremendous pressure as a result of the pandemic. What are your priorities as you take up this new function and what do you see as the key challenges for civil-military coordination going forward?

I would first like to say that I am very proud to be joining the EUROCONTROL team. I recognise and appreciate the outstanding work that the team delivers day in, day out, to make EUROCONTROL the premier Air Traffic Management organisation in the world. Over the coming months, I am looking forward meeting all of you, to learn and better understand your requirements, the challenges you face and your ideas about how to meet those challenges. As we all recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is even more apparent that people and mission cannot be separated; they are integral to the delivery of the tasks that make aviation in Europe safer and more efficient, and minimise the environmental impact. As I join the team I hope to bring my extensive knowledge, broad experience, motivation and dedication to the mission.That said, I would like to offer some initial thoughts, starting with three main topics that I consider to be a priority for successful civil-military cooperation (CMC).

Firstly, bringing Air Traffic Management (ATM) in line with the Future Architecture for Airspace Management. As Europe is moving towards an open architecture, capable of enabling a seamless, flexible and scalable provision of services, the digital European sky standards will play a critical role in supporting global interoperability and worldwide harmonisation. By showing compliance with a more performance-based regulatory framework, this will enable the implementation of innovative solutions like System-Wide Information Management (SWIM), which needs to treat military data with the required levels of confidentiality.

Secondly, another area which I believe needs more attention is the use of sovereign airspace by individual nations as we transition from peace to conflict in a crisis scenario in Europe. Clear and transparent procedures within the civil-military cooperative decision-making process, as well as a new mind set, will be required to achieve interoperability across the European Nations, the European Union (EU) and NATO, and a common understanding between civil and military entities. A good avenue for improvement could be the introduction of table top exercises for relevant stakeholders, and increased participation in NATO and EU exercises.

Finally, as far as the technical side is concerned, dual-use solutions will be the way to go. For the Single European Sky (SES) ATM Research (SESAR) venture, subsidies should be made available for military requirements, and civil-military security cooperation should be nurtured. Within the field of communications, navigation and surveillance (CNS), the rationalisation and reutilisation of military capabilities, performance-based certifications, and the dual-use of civil-military equipment will be the vectors that lower the costs, and the impact for the military side. The military is keenly interested in a coherent civil-military CNS procurement process that is able to reduce costs, improve efficiency, enables automation and improves connectivity. I think we need to find the right balance between military and civil needs; military aviation should ensure similar levels of system performance, however, without any undue cost that would diverge defence funds to support civil cost reduction without any tangible national security benefits.

Major General Karsten Stoye

How can EUROCONTROL further enhance civil-military cooperation at network level together with its Member States?

As of today, many nations already have a full strategic civil-military ATM dialogue, established and supported by civil-military steering bodies, which are mandated and represented at the national political level (Ministries), or the relevant management level. These nations offer an example that needs promoting. A key common aim could be the coordination and synchronisation of strategic civil-military decisions; this would enable nationally coordinated positions, and proposals for representation at both national and international levels (EU, SES, European Defence Agency (EDA), NATO, ICAO) as well as the harmonisation and synchronisation of the implementation of SES legislation. Clearly, we should continue to exploit the opportunities that lie in the common usage of infrastructure, procurement procedures and the cost reduction of resource pooling and sharing. This should be embraced by an optimisation of procedures and processes.

Flexible use of airspace (FUA), supported by an integrated Airspace Management Cell (AMC) jointly manned by civil and military planners should be the norm across all nations in Europe. An integrated AMC guarantees a balanced civil-military airspace management process that considers military effectiveness for the delivery of exercise and training missions, as well as expeditious civil air traffic flows.

In addition, I will attend future symposia, such as the NATO Air Chiefs Symposium, to enhance the civil-military network. I also intend to visit all EUROCONTROL Member States’ Air Chiefs, to introduce myself and learn where we can collaborate and improve our relationship.

What in your view is EUROCONTROL’s role concerning military and civil-military cooperation in the context of EU and NATO?

In simple military terms, EU and NATO are strategic- level organisations, whereas EUROCONTROL is one stage below at the operational and technical level, translating strategy into practical guidance for tactical execution. Only EUROCONTROL, with its unique civil-military nature, is practically capable to fulfil this function for aviation in Europe. A perfect practical example for the EU side is the NF-IR (strategic level) that is managed by EUROCONTROL as Network Manager (NM) (operational level) including all of its civil-military cooperation needs and transposed via the NM cooperative decision-making process into real actions for airlines, air navigation service providers (ANSPs), airports and, where applicable, the military. Concerning NATO, in addition to the security cooperation through the NATO-EUROCONTROL ATM Security Coordinating Group (NEASCOG), EUROCONTROL is providing the operational civil-military coordination to enable the executions of NATO’s strategic aims. For example, as Network Manager, EUROCONTROL played a key role in NATO’s Rapid Air Mobility (RAM) process (most recently implemented during the COVID-19 outbreak) with prioritising flights carrying medical supplies, thus minimising the impact of COVID-19 on Europe’s citizens. As former Chief of Staff of NATO’s Headquarters Allied Air Command, I can assure you that the partnership between NATO and EUROCONTROL is vital for the delivery of real- time measures that allow operational delivery. It is not just operations that benefit from a close working relationship; EUROCONTROL has participated in several recent exercises, ensuring knowledge transfer and building a strong foundation for future partnerships.

The next generation of fighters introduce new concepts that require more airspace, add unmanned technologies and new operational networks. How will this impact civil-military airspace management and how will this be best coordinated between the civil and the military side?

Modern aircraft like 5th-generation fighters and unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) need to be integrated into existing airspace and ATM arrangements. This is not just for military purposes, but also for civil, commercial and leisure use, acknowledging the fact that legacy and modern aircraft have to co-exist in the future. Additionally, to face the growing challenges presented by the rising numbers of UAS, the development of the U-space system as a framework to track the development and deployment of a fully automated drone management system, and the integration of this system, is a major task for the near future.

Over time, FUA will be the most realistic solution for the increasing number of modern fighters to the challenge of identifying larger airspaces and cross-border operations.

What measures are the military taking to ensure airspace is released as early as possible for civil use and is the civil side taking full benefit of the airspace made available?

Besides the current ASM procedures in place that generally provide a stable picture of active and non-active Airspace Reservation (ARES) about three hours before the event, the military also tactically releases airspace as expeditiously as possible. Furthermore, ARES is becoming more and more modular in volume, only using the airspace that is needed for respective aerial training.

Since the implementation of FUA in the late 1990s, the military has invested efforts and resources to flexibly offer unused ARES to civil aviation; however, this additional airspace provided to civil aviation does not seem to be used to the best possible extent. Recent initial analysis indicates that even on weekends, when usually no military training activities take place, ARES is circumnavigated by civil aviation, adding to the shortest possible route and creating additional fuel burn. We need to understand the reasons behind this and develop corrective actions to ensure that civil aviation takes full advantage of the airspace opportunities.

Do you see options for better cooperation between the military and NM to further enhance FUA?

The future of airspace management is one that is full of opportunity; I envisage a future that has a fully automated FUA process. Particularly for large training areas that accommodate combined fighter training in areas where traffic and weather would make that suitable (e.g. southern Europe). Automation has never been more important, especially with the demands for more airspace that come hand-in-hand with the introduction of more 5th generation aircraft, and the inclusion of UAS into controlled airspace.

Generally, we need to implement a better awareness among military personnel of the Network Manager Operation Cell (NMOC) and its civil-military coordination options through the Military Liaison Officer (MILO) function. Currently, as far as I am aware, only a couple of military experts even know of its existence.

Last, but by no means least, I want to strengthen the relationship of EUROCONTROL with the military, and raise awareness by promoting participation in joint civil-military exercises. I know this has been done before, but the benefits are substantial, and I hope we can improve this further.

AFUA

Advanced flexible use of airspace

Sustainability is a major focus for aviation as a whole. What is being done on the military ATM side to address the sustainability of military aviation going forward?

From a purely military perspective there are three main dimensions that should be looked at.

The first dimension is about optimisation of fleet, trajectories and all actions that could be taken to reduce the dependence of the military on carbon energy. Many national military are already working in this field, with actions ranging from technical modifications to reduce fuel consumption, via increased use of biofuel to alternative energy supply on military installations.

The second dimension is more related to adaptation measures to mitigate the risks related to climate change on military infrastructure and operations.

Military infrastructure and military operations will be impacted by climate change like any other operational infrastructure/stakeholder. Therefore it is essential to assess and identify the risks of climate change on their operations (for instance, the rise of sea-level could impact military airports close to the sea) and work on mitigating those risks.

The US the Department of Defense, for example, has already started looking at this from a national security and infrastructure perspective, other states’ militaries may have done similar exercises. There has also been some academic work done on potential impacts on the military.

I understand that EUROCONTROL has recently published a report on climate change risks for European aviation that among other things has identified for Europe 26 military or public/military airports with a risk of flooding. I think that the findings of this study (Climate change adaptation – quantification of risks and mitigation) should be used as a starting point for developing further mitigation actions.

The third dimension relates to the potential that resides in more effective ASM/FUA as military support for reducing fuel burned and CO2 produced by civil aviation, which could likely be the largest military contribution to CO2 overall reduction on the aviation side.

Here we should first investigate to what extent civil aviation is using the airspace released by the military, starting with the weekend use, when the airspace over Europe is usually fully available for civil aviation.

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