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In the SESAR CEO Survey 2016 Air Traffic Management magazine has comprehensively surveyed the senior leadership within the European industry on SESAR deployment and the prospects for success.

Are there sufficiently robust arrangements for supporting smaller, less profitable air navigation service providers (ANSP) in addition to non-EU ANSPs as SESAR deploys? How confident are you that they will secure the required functionality needed to benefit the European network as a whole?

Georgi Peev, BULATSA The SESAR Deployment Manager (SDM) has already established adequate and proactive mechanisms to facilitate the balanced involvement of all stakeholders in terms of SESAR deployment i.e. Stakeholders Consultation Platform (SCP). It is clearly an issue whether we will manage to deploy SESAR solutions in a coherent non-fragmented area covering the whole of Europe – even non-EU states. And we have seen that the SDM is there to identify and support initiatives which are beneficial for the network to be funded by the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF).

Read the SESAR CEO Survey 2016

Dragan Bilać, Croatia Control Due to the fact that the CEF 2015 Call features the possibility of financing the projects both from the CEF and cohesion funds, this represents a better position for smaller ANSPs – mostly those from less developed countries. Those arrangements will help ANSPs achieve the required functionalities, but it is up to each of them to decide how much they will get involved in cooperating with the SDM. They will still have to apply the regulations requirements anyway.

Klaus-Dieter Scheurle, DFS When it comes to deploying new functionalities, a special focus needs to be placed on smaller ANSPs in countries eligible for funding under the Cohesion Framework. The European Commission (EC) has correctly identified the need for investments in these countries and has acknowledged the special need for financial support for these stakeholders by utilising the Cohesion Fund. Investments of eligible partners receive a co-funding rate of 85 per cent compared to 50 per cent under CEF.

Smaller ANSPs in the highly-developed European core areas have the necessary means at their disposal to implement new functionalities. The Dutch LVNL, for example, has a long-standing and close partnership with DFS. We are currently establishing a new generation of a highly-advanced air traffic control system for en-route and TMA airspace, the iCAS system.

iCAS will enable DFS and LVNL to achieve significant performance gains both in capacity and cost-effectiveness. Deploying this system jointly with LVNL has significantly reduced the total system cost for DFS and LVNL. This cooperation could stand as a role model for future cooperation among ANSPs in the frame of the Single European Sky (SES) initiative.

Maurice Georges, DSNA All European ANSPs are connected together through Functional Airspace Blocks (FAB) or through other ANSP ad-hoc cooperative agreements. This should offer the appropriate guarantee to smaller and less profitable ones that are not left behind in the fast-paced deployment of SESAR.

Tanel Rautits, EANS There are good funding schemes to support bigger or smaller ANSPs to keep up with SESAR deployments. FAB cooperation should help smaller ANSPs to come in to line with others. Technically, it may be harder for larger ANSPs to implement all those changes as larger systems are more complicated and therefore more time consuming to handle.

Ángel Luis Arias Serrano, ENAIRE The SDM established the SCP in March 2015 as part of the ramp-up phase.

The SCP is the instrument through which the SDM consults operational stakeholders on its proposals to the EC, in particular on the Deployment Programme (DP) and its anticipated evolution, on revisions of the Pilot Common Project (PCP) and on new Common Projects (CPs).

The SCP consists of a steering group and thematic ‘SubPGroups’, as needed to perform detailed analysis of specific issues. Members of the steering group and the thematic SubPGroups are individuals appointed to represent the interest of their respective operational stakeholders.

In order to keep the groups within a manageable size, the operational stakeholders have organised their participation because they are represented by a maximum of 11 representatives. ANSPs are mainly represented at FAB level.

This working structure assures that all European FABs have the same representation level while their own interests can be defended equally in the same forum. Hence, less profitable Through the SCP, ANSPs can therefore access the same information regarding SDM proposals and command the same opportunities to influence.

Kornél Szepessy, HungaroControl I am convinced that profitability is not proportional to the size of an ANSP. On the contrary, most of the profitable and cost-effective ANSPs are rather the small or middle-sized, with lower unit rates, while the larger ANSPs operate with less efficient performance indicators.

I am confident that the required functionalities can be secured by all ANSPs regardless of size, depending on their effectiveness and their level of technological development. Innovative and agile ANSPs – like HungaroControl – can contribute to the successful deployment of SESAR projects should the SDM’s technical and EC’s financial support be forthcoming.

Eamonn Brennan, IAA Smaller ANSPs have limited scope to absorb the impacts of the costs of SESAR deployment and at the same time we have to comply with the constraints of the SES Performance Scheme cost efficiency targets. It must be understood and accepted by all stakeholders that the benefits associated with the deployment of SESAR will come at a cost. All ANSPs attempted to estimate these costs for the period to 2019 and included the estimates in our RP2 FAB Performance Plans. It may be that these forecasts are less than the actual costs of implementation so some flexibility to reflect any increase in actual SESAR deployment costs must be permitted by the EC and accepted by the airspace users.

With regards to the securing of the required functionality by the smaller ANSPs, this will very much depend on the capability of those ANSPs both technically and economically. This is why partnerships are critical for smaller ANSPs so this burden can be shared, such as COOPANS.

Olle Sundin, LFV I believe the additional cohesion funds are a good way to support the less profitable ANSPs. This requires an active role and leadership compared to relying on Eurocontrol to co-fund the work throughout the States. I do not see the need for Eurocontrol acting in parallel and would encourage, like we do in COOPANS and NUAC, collaboration to reduce costs!

Martin Rolfe, NATS This question points to the heart of the contradictions in European policy with regard to SES. On one hand the EC, supported by the Member States calls for defragmentation and consolidation, looking to move into a more competitive and business-like ATM structure; on the other hand, it makes funding available to support the implementation of technology by all ANSPs, which inevitably reinforces the current model of multiple providers and fragmentation.

That said, just because an ANSP is small doesn’t mean it can’t be profitable – even though that may not be its motivation.

The way in which the SDM currently operates, demonstrates that smaller ANSPs are just as likely as larger ones to gain access to European funding. Arguably, if this is not enough to enable them to meet the PCP mandates they will need to consider other measures such as partnerships and collaborations to share the cost of future systems.

Morten Dambaek, Naviair Medium-sized ANSPs are doing very well in Europe and often have a lower en route charges than the largest ANSPs, but when it comes to large scale SESAR deployments it is necessary to work together in international groupings, such as COOPANS and the A6 Alliance to gain benefits e.g. lower administration costs and knowledge/competence-sharing.

Magda Jaworska, PANSA Indeed, some smaller ANSPs would have less chance to invest in new solutions for two reasons. One is obvious; less human resources to run deployment projects mean less progress in the overall SESAR deployment.

The second is that every euro of co-financing for capital investments has to be transferred to airspace users through a decrease of unit rates over the depreciation period. And the current EU charging regulations do not permit any increase in the unit rate after that. ANSPs that charge lower unit rates at the beginning of the process have less margin to consume. It concerns larger ANSPs such as PANSA, where a margin does not exist at all.

As far as co-ordination arrangements in the DP preparations are concerned, they are organised through the SCP. The representation of ANSPs is through FAB membership and that’s what might cause problems in the larger FABs. The remedy resides in the hands of FABs themselves, however. During the project activation and execution, the cooperation arrangements are direct and far more exhaustive – with the results capable of being confirmed within a couple of months.

Cârnu Fănică, ROMATSA Smaller and less profitable ANSPs, in addition to non-EU ANSPs, should be, step by step, encouraged and involved in SESAR deployment phases in order to secure the full implementation of the required ATM functionalities.

Franc Županič, Slovenia Control Being the CEO of one of the smallest EU ANSPs, but at the same time being already involved in important projects, that are co-financed by the INEA, namely: ATM Data as a Service – AdaaS, a partnership of Maastricht UAC and Slovenia Control to address the deployment of new technologies and best practices, as well as Free Route Airspace from Black Forest to Black Sea, a project of FAB Central Europe partners on future Free Route Airspace proves that – at least for the time being – good ideas and the required functionalities for smaller ANSPs will be supported in the process of SESAR deployment for the benefit of the European network as a whole. I sincerely hope and believe, that this practice will continue in the coming years.

Anders Kirsebom, Avinor I can only speak on behalf of my own company which is a smaller non-EU ANSP. We are of course concerned about funding issues. Being a non-EU ANSP we do not have the same access to EU-funding as EU ANSPs, even though we by law have to implement the same SESAR technology/operational concepts. Lack of funding will definitely increase the financial burden on us compared to similar sized EU ANSPs. Even so, we are determined to implement the relevant CPs within the agreed timelines to ensure added value for our customers.

Jan Klas, ANS CR Smaller and less profitable ANSPs; it is a statement which contains at least two contradictions. Let me demonstrate that with two simple facts. The profitability of any ANSP is defined by the way its prices must be calculated. It should always reflect the low risk of a state-owned enterprise operating in today’s non-competitive environment. In this respect the profitability of large and smaller ANSPs are comparable.

The other fact is that within these comparable levels of profitability, the same level of service is being achieved at apparently lower cost by smaller ANSPs.

The correlation between the level of charges of an ANSP and the size of airspace it actually controls is negative. In this respect, SESAR will be able to maintain a high level of functionality, due to the relatively high proportion of taxpayer support. What it does not guarantee, however, is the motivation within less performing ANSPs to make improvements.

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