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European Union Air Traffic Control To Improve

Even hardened skeptics see hopeful signs that a pan-European regulation for ‘single sky’ air traffic control over Europe may yet become a reality. An EU committee formed early this year to study such a possibility is expected to issue its final report before the end of the year.

In its interim report, released last month, the committee came to the conclusion that  “air traffic management in Europe requires a strong regulator to establish clear rules.”

The committee calls for consistent regulation across Europe and says airspace should be designed and managed as “a common resource.”

To implement the idea, the committee appears to lean toward the proposal of a regulator with EU authority to implement Eurocontrol recommendations. Eurocontrol, a pan-regional air control center in Brussels, acts as a clearinghouse for air traffic control data and works to resolve problems within its 29 member states.

However, Eurocontrol lacks the power to enforce its recommendations. Europe has some 36 air-traffic control systems. They work largely independently and produce an uncoordinated patchwork. This in turn causes costly delays for flight departures.

According to the committee, countries have not coordinated efforts because their national air-traffic systems do not like taking orders from each other and because national militaries keep a lock on big chunks of skies.

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