Press release

Digital Backbone to strengthen SES

The A6 Alliance of ANSPs and EUROCONTROL launch a joint initiative to establish a 'digital backbone' to underpin the Europe-wide systems and technology developments supporting the move towards a Single European Sky (SES).

Brussels, Belgium - The A6 Alliance of air navigation service providers (ANSPs) and EUROCONTROL today launch a joint initiative to establish a “digital backbone” to underpin the Europe-wide systems and technology developments supporting the move towards a Single European Sky (SES).

They have issued a White Paper exploring how a shared data exchange infrastructure can be set up by the European ATM industry, and are looking to initiate an inclusive industry-wide discussion among operational stakeholders on how best to achieve it.

Roberta Neri, Chair of the A6 Alliance, said: “Our industry needs to rely increasingly on automated sharing, merging and presenting of information from diverse sources. Digitalising our business end-to-end will support incrementally improved operational performance adding great value to our airline customers. To achieve this important goal we need a coordinated approach. The White Paper, introducing the concept of a “SES Digital Backbone” and its collaborative and inclusive governance, is a first step towards achieving a consensus in our industry on how best to do that.”

Eamonn Brennan, Director General of EUROCONTROL, added: “This White Paper is a means of bringing the industry together to establish that “backbone” for digital transformation.  This is a major project for European ATM and to achieve it we will all need to be very flexible whilst having a strong core. Working together with the A6 Alliance has demonstrated how similar our thinking is around the future infrastructure, and now we need the wider industry, including airspace users and airports, to consider our suggestions and to make their own.”

The SES Digital Backbone (SDB) would underpin the essential data exchange infrastructure to create an over-arching framework for the wide range of SES implementation projects. Initially it proposes to build on the successful NewPENS approach to expand this to other key systems projects such as Data-Link and System Wide Information Management (SWIM) common components and ensuring interoperability support.

Over time and where necessary, the scope could widen to include further shared IT capabilities required for the inclusive, safe and cyber secure end-to-end digitalisation of European ATM. EUROCONTROL’s expertise and facilitation capabilities would be an important asset in realising this evolution.

The White Paper highlights the importance of coordinating important decisions such as how stakeholders can access operations-grade information and which technologies are introduced to the SDB and when. It advocates that effective set-up, operation and evolution of the SDB require the input of all operational stakeholders.

To this end, the White Paper proposes the establishment of an all-inclusive SES Shared Services Alliance (the “3SA”), to pursue three main objectives:

  1. Ensure the SDB operates in best market conditions for shared services and technological components;
  2. Establish a collaborative and inclusive governance to ensure the SDB meets operational stakeholders’ needs;
  3. Provide a common forum for fostering collaboration on shared technologies.

Ms Neri said: “Better access to data, and sharing it, requires a common “backbone” in order to modernise our industry and to create the capacity needed to meet growing demand and to increase efficiency. There is a pressing need to accelerate the evolution of the European ATM system. This includes making sure that operational stakeholders can effectively and efficiently integrate technological solutions developed by SESAR. We need a light and agile approach to help achieve that. We are convinced the SES Digital Backbone, governed by operational stakeholders on a “by-industry-for-industry” basis through the SES Shared Services Alliance, could be the way.”

Consult the White Paper and give your feedback

For further information please contact:

Jane Johnston
Phone: +44 7778 527 843

Kyla Evans
Phone: +32 2 729 5095

Note to editors

The A6 alliance was founded in 2011 by the six ANSP members of the SESAR JU – DFS (Germany), DSNA (France), ENAIRE (Spain), ENAV (Italy), NATS (UK) and NORACON – a consortium including Austro Control (Austria), AVINOR (Norway), EANS (Estonia), Finavia (Finland), IAA (Ireland), LFV (Sweden) and Naviair (Denmark). In 2015 PANSA (Poland) became a full member of the A6 Alliance, together with the COOPANS Alliance for work associated with Deployment Manager and SESAR 2020; and the B4 Consortium for work associated with SESAR 2020. The A6 Alliance has also reached a collaboration agreement with Skyguide in relation to SESAR 2020 R&D activities. Seven of Europe’s nine Functional Airspace Blocks (FABs) – the geographic pillar of SES – are now represented within the A6 Alliance and our members are responsible for the safe management of more than 80% of Europe’s air traffic, and more than 70% of the investment in the future European ATM infrastructure. While the FABs are primarily focused on operational performance improvement, the A6 Alliance is focused on SESAR development and deployment, SESAR deployment execution (planning, governance, funding), and key strategic areas of A6 common interest related to transport and aviation legislation. We seek to maximise synergies between the ANSP members of the A6 Alliance to deliver customer and network benefits; and to provide leadership at a European level in critical technical and strategic areas. The A6 is an inclusive initiative for ANSP contribution to modernising the European ATM system and welcomes interest and input from non-A6 members.

EUROCONTROL supports European aviation by working closely with its partners to develop a seamless, pan-European air traffic management (ATM) system that fully copes with the growth in air traffic, while maintaining a high level of safety, reducing costs and respecting the environment. EUROCONTROL works closely with EU institutions and provides technical support to the European Commission for the implementation of the Single European Sky. EUROCONTROL has 41 Member States: Albania, Armenia, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The Republic of North Macedonia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and also has Comprehensive Agreements with the Kingdom of Morocco and the State of Israel.