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18 March 2021

Single European Sky - Strengthening the role of Network Management

Iacopo Prissinotti EUROCONTROL

Iacopo Prissinotti, Director of the Network Management Directorate, EUROCONTROL

 

  • Dear Iacopo, thanks for taking the time to answer our questions! To start off, please tell us a bit more about your role of Director of the Network Management Directorate at EUROCONTROL.

 

It’s my pleasure! EUROCONTROL is a pan-European, civil-military organization dedicated to supporting European aviation. As Director of the EUROCONTROL Network Management Directorate my job is to ensure best air traffic management network operations throughout Europe to create maximum operational safety, efficiency, punctuality and sustainability for flights across European airspace.

Network Management is at the heart of the European Air Traffic Management (ATM), facilitating operations both in time of crisis - as it was the case for the pandemic - keeping the Network connected, exchanging vital information among operational stakeholders. and in time of recovery, paving the way for a hopefully soon to be quick traffic increase.

In parallel, we are preparing the European air traffic infrastructure of the future to make sure it is more scalable, resilient, and effective. Once the pandemic is contained and air traffic fully resumes in the years to come, it will be crucial to have a state-of-the-art ATM system in place that adapts quickly to varying traffic demand in the safest, most sustainable and efficient manner for the benefit of European aviation.

 

  • Would the difficulties in terms of delays/capacity of the network we’ve experienced before the COVID-19 crisis still be prevailing today if the SES2+ proposal was a reality?

 

The SES2+ proposal will provide the tools and the means to address more effectively the capacity crunch encountered before the COVID-19 crisis. SES2+ will build the premises for making the network/local operational actions, the network capacity requirements and the remedial measures more robust, all the while linking them to the performance scheme through an efficient incentive mechanism. This will push ANSPs and airports to achieve the necessary targets, avoiding situations similar to 2018. If today the Network Functions Implementing Rule makes some elements of the Network Operations Plan mandatory, there is no efficient EU-wide link to the performance scheme and its incentive mechanisms. The new proposal also promotes the network interest above any local one. For the airline community operating a network, this is exactly what is required to enable more efficient operations.

 

  • With CO2 emissions reduction being on everyone’s agenda, how do you see this proposal contributing to this objective?

The SES2+ proposal is one of the key measures to help achieve significant reductions in aviation emissions to reach climate-neutrality by 2050. EUROCONTROL is committed to work with all partners in aviation and beyond to make air traffic more sustainable. The new proposed network functions extensively cover airspace design, utilization and optimization. The initiatives already taken by the EUROCONTROL Network Manager together with States and operational stakeholders, through the Airspace Restructuring program go in this direction and the new legislation will enable a more effective implementation. The airlines also need to further participate in these activities. The dynamicity offered by the network today with regards to the availability of airspace structures is not fully exploited by the airspace users. There is a need for a more substantial evolution of the flight planning systems and more dynamicity from the flight dispatchers in utilizing all the opportunities that the network is offering even today.

  • From EUROCONTROL’s point of view, what tools are missing today to allow the Network Manager (NM) to properly plan and coordinate the European ATM system?

 

The new proposed network functions cover all network components both from an operational and infrastructure standpoint. They are delivered by all operational stakeholders, States and EUROCONTROL NM. This provides the necessary tools to have a single value chain from planning to operations. With the addition of the binding Network Operations Plan, a stronger cooperative decision-making process, closer links to the performance scheme and full commitment from the operational stakeholders, the network interests will be better defended, and the overall process will further improve.

 

  • Can a binding Network Operations Plan (NOP), as proposed by the European Commission, be a solution for ANSPs to deliver better performance and ensure that low performers do not hamper the entire system?

 

The main elements that shall become more stringent in the NOP are the network/local operational actions, the network capacity requirements and the remedial measures. Linking the NOP to the performance scheme through an efficient incentive mechanism will ensure commitment from the ANSPs and airports in achieving the necessary targets to avoid disincentives and potentially gain incentives. From a network point of view, it is hard to understand that, following a comprehensive cooperative decision-making process, the local operational actions defined by the ANSPs and the airports themselves are not implemented or downgraded year after year. We need tools to ensure all operational stakeholders respect what was agreed in the cooperative decision-making process.

 

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