UK is not meeting EU air standards

25/11/2011

The EU has revealed that the UK is among 5 countries failing to meet commitments it made under the Single European Sky legislation in 2008. These commitments include agreed aviation sector targets to streamline national air navigation systems, boosting flight capacity and cutting costs as well as increasing efficiency of the Air freight industry.

The Single European Sky legislation was initially introduced in 2001 to ensure “the safe and efficient utilisation of airspace and the air traffic management system within and beyond the EU.”

In June 2008 a revision of the Single European Sky legislation was adopted to focus on performance and environmental challenges, future technology, the competence of the European Aviation Safety Agency and the action plan for airport capacity, efficiency and safety.

There have also been recent discussions to include the Balkan and Mediterranean states.

Following the revelations, European Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas warned, “There is a genuine risk that we will lag behind and find ourselves unable to satisfy the rising demands of air travel, which is set to nearly double by 2030.”

He added that next year “is a make or break year for the Single European Sky, and there is a lot at stake.”

The other countries failing to meet the necessary standards are France, Germany, Spain and Austria. Each country is assessed on each commitment made using a traffic light method with red a fail, amber almost acceptable and green a pass. The UK, France, Germany, Spain and Austria received red for each criteria with only Belgium, Lithuania and Luxembourg scoring a green for each commitment.

The remaining countries received a mixed set of results which prompted Siim Kallas to say the findings “set alarm bells ringing” for the success of the Single European Sky process.

He further urged the failing member states “to confirm their commitments and to take action to make the Single European Sky implementation process a success.”

He warned: “Failing to take measures at national level to achieve the Single European Sky would oblige the Commission to reopen the legislative packages with a view to more radical solutions.”

All governments signed up in 2009 to the latest step in the Single European Sky process which began in 2004, involving binding performance targets to improve air navigation services by integrating European air space at lower cost.

At the time, the Commission said the Single European Sky would result in significantly fewer flight delays, with consequent cost savings for airlines and passengers.

Better coordination of national air traffic control systems across Europe should mean more efficient, shorter flight paths, with environmental benefits and a “maintained or even enhanced” level of safety.

It has just to be announced how countries, including the UK, who continue to fail to meet Single European Sky legislation requirements, will be dealt with. However, it is important that offending countries work hard to meet requirements in order to meet targets set out in the initial plan including agreeded aviation sector targets to streamline national air navigation systems, boosting flight capacity and cutting costs as well as increasing efficiency of the Air freight industry.