Wednesday, May 4, 2011
The Wall Street Journal has a detailed story on the European Union's Single European Sky (SES) program. See Daniel Michaels, Sky Wars: Europe Battles to Erase Borders in the Air, Wall St. J., May 4, 2011 (available here). As the story makes clear, despite the renewed impetus given to the program following last year's "Volcanic Ash" crisis, inter-governmental squabbling among the EU Member States remains an issue. Unsurprisingly, the airline industry's lead global trade group, the International Air Transport Association, has been unimpressed by the glacial pace of ATM modernization in the EU.
Though only lightly addressed in the story, it should be made clear that U.S. efforts to upgrade its own ATM system, the so-called "NextGEN" initiative, faces its own challenges. The House and Senate have yet to agree on legislation to further fund NextGEN and organized labor, fearful that ATM modernization will yield job losses, are expected to resist efforts to fasttrack the project. Even so, the U.S. and EU have pledged to cooperate on their modernization efforts to ensure interoperability once their respective systems are fully functional. See Memorandum of Cooperation, NAT-I-9406, U.S.-EU, June 17, 2010, 2011 O.J. (L 89) 3.
Blog readers interested in learning more about the legal and political challenges to ATM modernization will find detailed discussions of these issues in Brian F. Havel and Gabriel S. Sanchez's forthcoming book, The Principles and Practice of International Aviation Law. Moreover, Professor Havel's analysis of U.S. views on the SES initiative will be published later this Spring.