All on board to shape EU air traffic management

Major European airlines and representatives of business aviation and pilots have promised to help validate new technologies and processes for the next generation of EU air-traffic management systems, expected to be operational by 2020.

The Sesar Joint Undertaking (JU) signed contracts this week (15 September) with major airspace users to engage their technical experts in the Sesar programme.

Deals were signed with Air France & Régional, KLM, Iberia, Lufthansa Group including SWISS and LCAG, SAS Scandinavian Airlines, TAP Portugal, Novair and a consortium coordinated by the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA), including Netjets Europe and Dassault Aviation.

The executive director of the Sesar JU, Patrick Ky, underlined that integration of airline expertise at the beginning of the development phase is “vital for the success of Sesar”. 

“Sesar is made for and with the airspace users. They will participate and analyse the outcomes of the SESAR projects from a technical and cost perspective, which will reinforce the user-driven approach of the future Sesar technologies and procedures,” Ky added. 

Expertise deals were also signed with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the International Council of Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (IAOPA).

Discussions with the military sector are currently underway to find a way to integrate military aviation’s input to the programme. 

Flight demonstrations, operational validation

Sesar’s chief communications officer, Eric Platteau, stressed that airspace users are a very heterogeneous group with different needs. It is crucial that their views, concerns and input are integrated into the programme during the development phase of new technical systems and processes, he added.

Their involvement will help to ensure that the new systems add value for their operators and to accelerate the implementation of the new technologies once they are ready, Platteau added.

In the framework of the contracts, Sesar JU is paying a small fee for the use of airspace users’ expertise. 

The Sesar JU needs expertise support in all airspace users’ domains which interact with Air Traffic Management (ATM) systems. These include flight operations, in particular in the area of fuel efficiency, flight planning processes, aircraft system specifications, operations control processes, aircraft scheduling, network management, crew training, and cost and revenue evaluation. 

Projects already underway

Contracts worth some €2 billion were signed with the manufacturing industry and air navigation providers earlier this summer (EURACTIV 16/06/09).

The first 30 projects were launched in July. Among these are three projects addressing the future aviation intranet, wi-fi ATM communication at airports and a satellite-based precision aircraft landing system. A total of 124 projects should begin before end of 2009.

A total of 16 work packages and 295 projects are to be undertaken between 2009 and 2016 to develop and deliver the necessary operational and technical specifications, procedures, prototypes and validation activities for the progressive deployment of the future European ATM system. 


European skies are still divided into 27 different airspace sectors, forcing aircraft to fly through numerous air traffic control systems to get to their destination, rather than flying the shortest route. European airlines estimate that inefficiencies in European air traffic management (ATM) cost the industry €5 billion a year. 

The Single European Sky (SES) initiative aims to modernise airspace management to cope with increasing traffic, improve safety and reduce both costs and the aviation sector's CO2 emissions. 

The Sesar Joint Undertaking (JU), a public-private partnership in air traffic management R&D, is the technological component of the Single Sky Initiative and seeks to develop the EU's future ATM system. 


  • By 2020: New Sesar components and procedures should gradually become operational. 

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