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Air Traffic Management: Commission launches the deployment of SESAR

The Commission has adopted recently a new Regulation establishing governance and incentive mechanisms to facilitate the effective and timely deployment of SESAR, the Union's flagship project that aims at modernising the Air Traffic Management (ATM) system and enhancing its performance.

Vice President Siim Kallas, Commissioner for Transport said: "I am delighted that we are making good progress towards SESAR deployment. It has always been clear that technology is an important part of the Single European Sky, but airlines, airports and air navigation service providers want to see concrete benefits flowing from the programme to deliver on performance improvements, and with the adoption of this Regulation, those benefits got closer."

SESAR contributes to increasing capacity and safety of ATM systems while reducing costs of ATM services and the impact of air transport on the environment. The SESAR project is the technological pillar of the Single European Sky (SES). The progress and success of the SES also depends on a successful deployment of SESAR.

SESAR consists of a cycle of three interrelated and evolving processes that define, develop and deploy a new concept of ATM operations. Through this new Regulation the Commission has activated the deployment process that will close the loop of the SESAR lifecycle and enable the project to fully deliver its benefits.

The Regulation defines four main instruments to support SESAR deployment:

  • Common projects: to ensure the deployment of ATM functionalities that are considered essential for the improvement of the Union’s ATM system performance.

  • Governance mechanisms: to ensure a timely and coordinated deployment of the SESAR concept, including the involvement of all stakeholders and the relevant EU bodies. All actors involved will have clear responsibilities at three levels: policy, management and implementation.

  • The deployment programme: to translate the common projects into detailed deployment activities.

  • Targeted incentives: to support the coordination and the implementation of common projects.

The proposal results from an extensive consultation process conducted over the past 2 years involving all stakeholders and Member States. The Commission is currently setting up the deployment governance and plans to adopt the first common project in early 2014. This will pave the way for the deployment of specific SESAR deliverables.


SESAR contributes to the implementation of the SES by developing technologies and procedures for a new-generation ATM system capable of enhancing performance by tripling the current capacity while improving safety by a factor of 10, reducing by 50% costs for the airlines and reducing air transport’s impact on the envi­ronment by 10% per flight (SES performance objectives).

It is estimated that SESAR deployment will require total investments of EUR 30 billion but will generate significant economic value and improvements in safety, quality of service and environment for Europe: Cumulative impact on EU GDP is estimated to be EUR 419 billion; 328.000 jobs created, 50 million tons of CO2 saved. These benefits are however extremely dependent on the ability to move forward with deployment in a timely and synchronised way.

Common projects can, for example, be set up to facilitate and accelerate the deployment of certain ATM functionalities that improve fuel efficiency and emissions of flights by allowing aircraft to fly more direct flight trajectories (e.g. “Free route”). Based on the relevant new technologies and operational procedures developed and validated in the development phase of SESAR, the common project would define: “what” needs to be done, in terms of the mature technological or operational changes (e.g. upgrade of flight processing systems); “why”, in terms of the expected benefits (e.g. gains in flight performance, fuel efficiency and reduction of costs); “where” the deployment needs to occur to ensure maximum benefits and; “who” needs to deploy these functionalities.

Common projects will also identify incentives (such as EU grants, loans, modulation of route charges for airspace users) to support the operational stakeholders required to implement common projects, in particular those with who have the most difficulties to deploy the selected functionalities. The deployment programme defines “how” a common project should be implemented through a number of implementation projects that ensure the deployment of the ATM functionalities included in the common project.

The setup, coordination, synchronisation and monitoring of common projects is ensured by dedicated governance structure acting at three levels:

  • At policy level, the Commission sets up and adopts common projects, after consulting stakeholders and Member States, in the form of Commission implementing Regulations. The Commission ensures the coherence of the common projects with the SES policy and the safeguard of the public interest. It also manages the incentives granted to the implementation projects and monitors the overall implementation of the common projects and their contribution to improving ATM performance.

  • At management level, the deployment manager, designated by the Commission, develops and ensures the timely and coordinated execution of the deployment programme.

  • Finally, at implementation level, project managers ensure the execution of their implementation projects in accordance with the deployment programme.

Contacts :

Helen Kearns (+32 2 298 76 38)

Dale Kidd (+32 2 295 74 61)

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