The Single European Sky initiative
The Single European Sky (SES) initiative originated from within the European Commission in 1999 when there was general dissatisfaction with the levels of delay experienced by airlines and passengers. A High Level Group (HLG) was established by the Commission to investigate and report on the underlying issues. The general thrust of the HLG's recommendations were accepted by Member States of the European Union and resulted in four legislative measures which came into effect in April 2004:
the Framework Regulation establishes the European Commission as the regulator for the civil sector and the Single Sky Committee to assist it in its regulatory activities;
the Airspace Regulation which will establish a single European Upper Information Region and within it organise airspace into functional airspace blocks (FABs);
the Service Provision Regulation establishes a common licensing system for civil ATM providers; and
the Interoperability Regulation which aims to ensure that systems, equipment and procedures operate seamlessly.
The framework made provision for an ongoing process to develop Implementing Rules (IRs) to expand upon these four high level regulations. Once agreed, IRs are published in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU).
Following review of the progress of the Single Sky in 2007 the Commission concluded that the desired results were not being realised fast enough and that further action was needed in other areas such as performance and the environment. This led to the publication of a communication entitled “Single Sky II - Towards a more sustainable and better performing aviation” which the formed the basis of the Commission’s SES II Package.
The SES II package consists of five main pillars: performance, safety, technology, airport capacity and the human factor. The (SES II) regulation amending the four high level SES regulations was published in the OJEU on 14 November and came into force on 4 December 2009.
On 27 April the Commission issued an information note setting out a series of steps they proposed to take in response to the volcanic ash crisis precipitated by the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull; these included expediting the delivery of the Single European Sky (SES) and the creation of a European Crisis Coordination Cell. At an extraordinary meeting of the Transport Council on 4 May 2010, Member States were largely supportive of these proposals.
To keep you up to date with the latest developments the CAA produces a monthly SES Information Bulletin.