Eamonn Brennan, director general of EUROCONTROL mused on the future of aviation at this year’s Airports Council International’s general assembly in Brussels in the context of air traffic management. Air traffic will double in the near future, so can the current air traffic management system cope?
There is serious concerns that it cannot – not without change anyhow.
As aviation grows, EUROCONTROL see air traffic management in Europe as an issue at the heart of how to cope with this demand. There are three main focuses in air traffic management when looking toward the future: airspace and airport capacity, fragmentation and ANSPs.
In terms of growth, on a shorter scale, the director general stated “we expect 3.4% growth in air traffic movements this year”. Yet, as demand grows there is an increasing amount of delays with 1.5 days worth of traffic delays in May 2018 alone.
EUROCONTROL anticipates that there will be 14.3 million minutes worth of delays this year, a massive 53% increase from last year. Delays adding to increased demand is essentially stress testing the current air traffic management system and the results are worrying, according to Brennan.
Brennan stated that “the system will not be able to cope” with air traffic movements by 2030 without significant changes to the system in Europe. 16 airports will be in a very congested situation by 2040 and 160 million passengers “will simply not be able to fly” if the system is not changed to meet demand.
As Brennan noted, there are measures needed to be taken. These include airside infrastructure being focused on; better use of existing capacity needs to be utilised and there needs to be less fragmentation.
By EUROCONTROL’s standards, things need to change. The moderator of the conference noted how the information presented by Brennan was “frightening”. That horror could become a reality in the next few decades if changes to the current air traffic management system is not changed.