The Commission has requested that Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands complete the implementation of their Functional Airspace Block (FAB). FABs are large portions of airspace arranged around traffic flows rather than state boundaries, in which air navigation services (ANS) are optimised. This allows aircraft to fly without delays on the shortest routes and best flight levels, therefore reducing fuel burn, and reducing costs.
All EU Member States should have implemented their FABs by 4 December 2012 according to Regulation (EC) No 550/2004. The FAB between Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Switzerland (FABEC) has been formally established through an international agreement which came into force on 1 June 2013. However, the objectives pursued by the legislation – to optimise the use of both that airspace and the air navigation services – have not been reached yet because the FABEC implementation has so far been too slow.
Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands now have two months to notify the Commission of measures taken to remedy this situation. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer these countries to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).
The lack of progress on FABs is holding back the implementation of the EU’s Single European Sky, resulting in 30% to 40% extra costs for air navigation charges being levied. This represents a loss of some 5 billion euros annually. Additionally, planned safety enhancements in the Single European Sky are negatively impacted. Slow progress on the FABEC alone affects 55 % of European air traffic.
Today each flight over Europe has to add an average of 42 kilometres due to the fragmentation of airspace along national boundaries. Currently there are 10 million flights per year in the EU and the existing air traffic management is approaching its capacity limits. By 2035, this number will increase to 17 million flights. For more information about FABs and Single European Sky click here.