Aviation: A single sky for all?
20 April 2010
The paralysis of air traffic across Europe since the eruption of Eyjafjallajoekull in Iceland is due in part to the absence of a single policy regarding the European airspace. Some in the Austrian and French press argue that it's now time to move forward with this long postponed project.
The aviation paralysis caused in Europe by the cloud of ash from the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajoekull is mainly due to the "fragmentation of aviation security” on the Old Continent, asserts Der Standard. "Even under normal conditions it is very costly and causes frequent delays”, observes the Viennese daily, pointing out that “the various countries all used the same source of information" – the computer simulation by the Met Office in London, though they then decided individually whether or not to close their airports and their air space.” In a word, says Der Standard, "this muddle is a far cry from optimised security".
Which is why, explains Le Monde, the current crisis ought to be an opportunity to "further centralise European air traffic control". The Parisian daily reminds readers that currently “each of the 27 countries decides whether to close its air space when an incident occurs, in concert with its European neighbours, then notifies Eurocontrol, which coordinates the control of aerial navigation". This situation "could evolve into part of the European Single Sky project" to create “a body to control the air traffic network, whose responsibilities are to be specified by the end of the year”.
The latter "would be likely to go beyond the merely coordinating role currently assigned to Eurocontrol, and it would be based on nine large EU regions”. The idea of a “single sky” was floated in 1999 "to adapt to developments in air traffic. The principle is to transition from having each of the 27 countries control its own air traffic to having one body oversee a larger zone, for greater efficiency. From 2012, each of the nine groups will then have to decide whether to reinforce and tighten up the existing cooperation."