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Air Traffic Management & Airports

The WG was created in February 2000 to discuss ATM issues and was then enlarged to airports issues in May 2007. The WG has a very broad scope, dealing with all issues related to ATM and airports at European level. For more information on the aims and tasks of the WG, please read its Terms of reference.

Main issues

·         Airports

In airports, there are currently three main issues. The first one concerns the future rules that will regulate the aerodromes in Europe. Since the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) got the mandate to regulate ATM & airports, they published a draft rules on aerodromes in December 2011. After three months of consultation and analysis, the ECA ATMA WG made extensive comments to the text, stressing once more the importance of pilots’ associations in all decision-making and deviation processes. The Agency is currently (June 2012) looking at the comments and should be shortly publishing a revised text in the form of a Comment Response Document (CRD). ECA experts will need to review this text and ensure that our comments have been taken into account. In a conference organized by EASA in May, it was clear that most stakeholders were overall happy with the ‘soft law approach’ chosen by EASA and in a response letter to ECA, EASA expressed that the involvement of pilots is implicitly mentioned and it would be “imbalanced” to mention it expressly in the deviation mechanisms. Lobbying is therefore planned. To see the ECA’s comments, as well as ECA’s letter to EASA and EASA’s response, go here.

The second issue is about the future European Plan for the Prevention of Runway Excursions (EAPPRE). After publishing its European Action Plan for the Prevention of Runway Incursions (EAPPRI 2), EUROCONTROL undertook the difficult task of drafting a plan to prevent runway excursions. The work is coming to an end and a final meeting of the stakeholder group is planned for September 2012, the publication is therefore expected by the end of 2012 or beginning of 2013. There too, the ECA experts, and particularly ECA representatives in the group, have made a lot of work and are pushing to have pilots explicitly mentioned in the composition of Local Runway Safety Teams (LRST).

Last but not least, ECA has a special mailing list, composed of pilots involved in LRST in Europe ( The aim of the mailing is to share best practices, questions/concerns, as well as better coordinate between the LRST representatives. It is planned to have soon an LRST toolkit that would allow all these members to have access to documents relevant for their work.

·         ATM

The Single European Sky (SES) project is the overarching topic in the field of Air Traffic Management (ATM). Contrary to the United States, Europe airspace is highly fragmented while it is among the busiest in the world. The European Commission therefore decided to launch in 2000 an ambitious initiative to reform the architecture of European air traffic management, the Single European Sky, with the key objectives of enhancing safety and increasing the overall efficiency of the system (capacity-wise and cost-wise).

In 2007, some shortcomings of the SES legislation were identified and it was therefore felt necessary to go a step further. The European Commission came up with a second legislative package (SES-II) with the cornerstone of enhancing performance. The setting up of a performance scheme, the creation of a European network manager, the acceleration of Function Airspace Blocks (FABs) creation, the extension of EASA’s remit to Airports and ATM, the inclusion of the airport dimension and the human factor dimension were the main components of the EC’s proposal.

On all these topics and initiatives, ECA is able to put forward its views and concerns through its participation in the Industry Consultation Body (ICB), which was created by SES regulation and is composed of all ATM stakeholders, including staff organisations. It also has an additional opportunity to make its voice heard through its seat in EUROCONTROL Agency Advisory Board (AAB).

As part of the Single European Sky initiative, SESAR (Single European Sky ATM Research) represents its technological dimension. SESAR aims to transform the ATM system, synchronise all stakeholders and federate resources. For the first time, all aviation players are involved in the definition, development and deployment of a pan-European modernisation project.

ECA experts were actively involved in the Definition Phase (2004-2008) which delivered the so-called ATM Master Plan, a kind of roadmap for the development and deployment of the next generation of ATM systems. As regards the on-going Development Phase (2008-2013), made up of about 300 projects, ECA is heavily involved through a Framework Contract with the SESAR Joint Undertaking, the EU agency managing the programme. An ECA team of experts was set up in 2010 and has been contributing to a number of projects since then. Among others, the issues of interest for pilots addressed in the context of SESAR include safety nets, airborne separation assistance systems, CCO/CDO, wake vortex, meteorological requirements, human performance.

This group of experts also offers the opportunity to discuss and produce inputs about the upcoming SESAR deployment and the related challenges, i.e. the management of change and the human factor dimension. It is an important task as it is basically about defining what should be the role and responsibilities of the pilots in the new modernised ATM systems.

Finally, ECA experts also contribute to addressing more specific and technical issues through their participation in dedicated EUROCONTROL Teams, Working Groups and Task Forces, such as NETOPS (Network Operations Team) and APDSG (ATM Procedures Development Sub-Group). In the last few months, ECA experts have participated in the on-going discussion to set up a harmonised transition altitude in Europe and delivered comments to the Advance-Notice of Proposed Amendment (A-NPA) issued by EASA on that matter. 

Members & Meetings

The WG usually meets once to twice a year, for a two-day meeting (one day when there is less on the agenda). Meetings are organized from time to time on specific issues, such as the EASA draft rules on Aerodromes and SESAR matters. The WG generally lacks active members and attendance at WG meetings is quite low, but given the huge work that is carried out, we need more experts. Do not hesitate to join! If you are an LRST member, send us an email and we will add you to the mailing list.

Executive Board Director
Gianluca Carpino
Staff member
Loïc Michel
ATMA WG mailing list
LRST mailing list
SESAR mailing list