The European Commission initiative Single European Sky – SES was launched in 1999 with the aim to improve the performance of air traffic management and air navigation systems through better integration of the European airspace. The SEs initiative was launched in response to delays incurred as a result of air navigation, which had reached a peak in Europe in the late 1990s.
The SES is aimed at reducing the fragmentation of European airspace (between Member States, civil and military usage, and technologies), thereby increasing its capacity and safety and efficiency of air traffic management.
The response to the idea of airspace integration is division of Europe into nine Functional Airspace Blocks (FABs), on the basis of traffic flows rather than of national borders in order to shorten the routes and to reduce the noise and emission.
Compared with 2004, the SES (once completed around 2030) aims to:
- triple airspace capacity,
- halve the costs of ATM,
- improve safety tenfold, and
- reduce by 10% the impact of aviation on the environment
Regulatory framework for the implementation of SES consisted of four regulations adopted in 2004:
- Regulation (EC) 549/2004
laying down the framework for the creation of single European sky,
- Regulation (EC) 550/2004
on the provision of air navigation services in the single European sky,
- Regulation (EC) 551/2004
on the organization and use of airspace in the single European sky, and
- Regulation (EC) 552/2004
on the interoperability if the European Air Traffic Management network.
SES I regulatory package was amended in 2009 (SES II), introducing the competence-based mechanisms - Regulation (EC) 1070/2009
. Four Key Performance Areas were defined: safety, capacity, environment and cost-effectiveness.
The regulatory framework was further amended by EU rules on air traffic safety (and corresponding competence of the European Aviation Safety Agency - EASA) with regards to air traffic management, air navigation services as well as safety of airport procedures. At the same time the European Commission adopted a series of implementing rules and community specifications (“technical standards”).
After the European Commission in 2012 expressed its dissatisfaction with the Member States’ slow progress in the implementation of the reform of European ATM system and realization of the target values in the Key Performance Areas (KPAs), in March 2013 it launched the procedure for Single European Sky 2+ regulation proposal.
The aims of the SES 2+ package, which still hasn’t been adopted by the European Parliament, are to simplify the legislation, to introduce even stricter performance targets for air navigation services, to strengthen the National Supervisory Authorities in the sense of independence, to clearly define the competencies of EASA, to strengthen the flexibility of FABs as well as the role of Network Manager (EUROCONTROL), to introduce the functional separation of air navigation support services, and to ensure stronger involvement of airspace users in the creation of policy.