The COVID-19 crisis has once again shown that the aviation industry is a complex eco-system. Stakeholders – manufacturers, airlines, airports, air navigation service providers (ANSPs) – understand that it is only by working together that the industry will be able to create a safe, scalable pan-European aviation network in which passengers will have the confidence to return once again to the skies.
FABEC States are convinced that Functional Airspace Blocks (FABs), which provide critical infrastructure to enable safe and environmentally responsible flights, have a pivotal role in this European ATM network. FABs are crossroads, where high-level European Union ATM policies are translated into national and regional daily operations for all airspace users – commercial, business and military. FABEC has become - due to its geographical location in the heart of Europe – a catalyst for strong and sustainable operational cooperation across national borders guided by common performance targets compiled in one common FABEC Performance Plan.
Since its establishment in 2012, FABEC has relied on strong and effective governance and working structures at the levels of States, ANSPs and together. Its work platform has proved its effectiveness in times of volatile and unexpected traffic growth and steep traffic decline, following crises such as the COVID 19 pandemic and the 2010 volcanic ash crisis. Hence, FABEC has become a highly respected and recognized partner – both at a European level (Network Manager, interFAB cooperation, social dialogue etc.) and worldwide (winning the ATCA David J. Hurley Award, CANSO Safety Award, ATM Award on environment).
The FABEC partners believe now, more than ever, that the importance of FABs within the European aviation network, especially in the core area, needs to be recognised and supported – especially as aviation’s successful recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is critical to the economic and social wellbeing of the continent’s citizens. FABEC is a tried and tested regional collaboration platform which will enable the recovery in a safe, environmentally-responsible and cost-effective way. By fostering regional cross border cooperation, it is a pivotal layer to ensuring the successful recovery within the framework and principles of the Single European Sky and the European Commission’s Green Deal.
In Single European Sky regulations, the opportunity for States to present a single performance plan for a FAB – at the same time incorporating specific national targets for economic performance – is strategically important. A FAB-level plan requires a joint, operational performance approach towards optimising airspace management operations which goes beyond any individual national performance. Any update of the existing SES regulations should preserve this and maintain the possibility of FAB agreements as today.
The following table provides a brief overview of what FABEC has achieved over the last years. It shows a transformation of ATM service delivery has taken place and that FABEC is a vital strategic resource on which the entire industry can rely for recovery planning and future growth. The transformation has involved FABEC - internally and with external partners - developing new working practices to respond to increasingly unpredictable fluctuations in demand while ensuring the high-level targets of safety and environmental performance are met or exceeded. Over the last decade the world has entered a new era of volatility. FABEC States and ANSPs are ready to accept this challenge.