Dec. 10, 2013

With an eye toward the cost of complying with ADS-B requirements scheduled to take effect in December 2017, the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA) and European operators have convinced Eurocontrol to expand the implementation timeline for its Single European Sky Air Traffic Management Research program (SESAR) by three years.

The move puts European Union (EU) countries on the same basic timeline as the United States.

“The Europeans decided the timeline for Mode-S transponder requirements and ADS-B Out were just too aggressive because of costs and other factors,’ said NBAA Operations Service Group (OSG) Specialist Brian Koester.

The announcement from Brussels came after a Nov. 22 meeting between Matthias Ruete, the EU’s director general of mobility and transport (DG-MOVE); and the head of the Unit for Single European Sky, Maurizio Castelletti; representatives from EBAA and other airspace user groups. They gathered to discuss issues with the EU’s SESAR, which is analogous to the FAA’s NextGen program.

SESAR was designed to unfold in three steps: definition (2005-2008), development (2008-2013) and deployment (2014-2020).

“During the meeting, EBAA and the other associations expressed their concerns over the current implementing regulation, in particular with respect to the costs of retrofitting both ‘old’ and ‘new’ aircraft that appear to be significantly higher than anticipated in the initial cost benefit analysis as produced by Eurocontrol and the lack of binding requirements for air navigation service providers (ANSP) to synchronize the deployment of ADS-B ground stations,’ said EBAA’s Senior Manager for Economics and Operational Activities Belarmino Gonçalves Paradela.

The decision by the DG-MOVE means that operators flying in Eurocontrol airspace have until sometime in 2020 to retrofit their aircraft with Mode-S Elementary Surveillance (ELS) or Mode-S Enhanced Surveillance (EHS) transponders, along with ADS-B Out. Like the U.S., the EU plans to eventually phase out most primary and secondary air traffic control radars by going to a system that relies on an aircraft’s GPS reporting capability.

“By doing so, [Europe] is not only synchronizing with FAA’s ADS-B mandate (which becomes effective in 2020), but is also sending out a clear message to the industry that it wants to take our concerns more into consideration,’ said Paradela.

Koester said the change also presents a major benefit to U.S. operators who fly to and from EU countries.

“It gives the FAA more time to figure out what they’re going to do and issue letters of authorization (LOAs) for some of this new technology,’ he said. “We want to express a big thanks to EBAA for pushing this through. Now, all of us can work toward NextGen and SESAR on the same timeline that doesn’t require major equipment modifications based solely on travel between Europe and North America.’