A campaign gets underway today to update Europe’s roadmap for air traffic management (ATM) modernisation. This will contribute to EU climate goals through digital innovation, targeting environmental benefits by optimising how flights are operated.

Industry leaders gathering in Brussels today for the SESAR 3 Joint Undertaking Annual Conference are giving their backing to the launch of a campaign to update the European ATM Master Plan, the official roadmap driving ATM modernisation efforts. Industry associations issued a Joint Declaration, committing to rapid and united action to make European airspace the most efficient and environmentally friendly sky to fly in the world.

The declaration acknowledges the need to boost cooperation and investment on breakthrough innovations, which will deliver the Digital European Sky and contribute to reducing aviation’s climate impacts. It highlights that, given the pressing climate goals, the safety-critical nature of ATM, and timeframes for innovation, the Master Plan is the vehicle that will provide essential direction and focus to future ATM investments. The Master Plan will also align efforts with the growing number of other initiatives and frameworks targeting aviation sustainability.

Analysis by the SESAR 3 JU, EASA and EUROCONTROL(i) suggests that introducing new technologies and procedures into ATM can provide a significant and immediate contribution towards making aviation climate neutral, while work progresses on other high impact innovations, such as sustainable aviation fuels and new aircraft. For example, it is estimated that already delivered SESAR solutions could result in a 4% reduction in CO2 emissions per flight(ii) and that the solutions already implemented through Common Project 1 have contributed 2% in emissions reductions per flight(iii).

The new European ATM Master Plan will set the vision and prioritise the digital solutions which will be the key enablers in delivering the Digital European Sky. The solutions will enable European airspace to flexibly accommodate new and different types of air vehicle, all flying climate-efficient trajectories that are dynamically adapted in real time using AI-enabled systems.

European Commissioner for Transport, Adina Ioana Vălean said: “Air traffic management can clearly play a significant part in both reducing aviation emissions and supporting smart and integrated transport solutions. Up to 10% of CO2 emissions could be avoided by increasing the efficiency of air traffic management in European airspace, as envisaged by the Single European Sky framework. I therefore welcome today’s launch of the European ATM Master Plan campaign to further modernise flying in Europe.”

Speaking on behalf of the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the EU , Álvaro Fernández-Iruegas, Deputy Director General, Spanish Civil Aviation Authority said: “The work of SESAR and its partners is central to the EU sustainable and smart mobility strategy, which relies upon digital innovation and interoperability. Spain has been proud to work for a more united, autonomous and fair Europe during its presidency of the European Council, and the European ATM roadmap is exactly the kind of future-looking collaboration that we support.”

Andreas Boschen, Executive Director, SESAR 3 JU added: “The new European ATM Master Plan will address the climate change imperative. Building on the success of SESAR, the plan will set the strategic framework for our future efforts in ATM and show how digital innovation will open the trajectory to a digital and green European sky. I am looking for vision and ambition to make the next edition of the Master Plan a powerful tool for ATM transformation that benefits Europe’s citizens and industry.”

An extensive consultation will now get underway with industry stakeholders, European policymakers, and Member States. The aim is to have the new edition of the Master Plan adopted by the SESAR 3 JU Governing Board at the end of 2024.

The annual conference also paid tribute to the successful closure of the SESAR 2020 programmer with 149 projects having delivered 127 solutions, which are now ready for deployment.