Think Thoughts

Reflections on a Sneak Peek

The process for public funding of SESAR deployment is already well established. Last week I attended the SESAR Deployment Managers “Sneak Peek” event in advance of the INEA CEF Transport 2016 call for proposals. The event clearly illustrated the maturity of the SDM processes to support the application process –  although the Call timings will once again require stakeholders to work over the Christmas break.

The SDM is evidentially successful when you consider that nearly €1bn have already been awarded for PCP deployment. In amongst the success are of course the odd issue of concern.

Firstly requests for cohesion funding were significantly lower than the available budget in 2015. Given that cohesion countries may receive up to 80% of eligible costs (compared to only 50% in the general call) this may be surprising. However, look at the overall results of the 2016 CEF Transport Call for cohesion funds: proposals totalling €9.5Bn were submitted leading to awards of €5.6Bn of €6.4Bn of available funds – overwhelmingly railway projects were selected. When faced with a choice it appears that Member States would rather receive help for railway developments (that rarely if ever get re-paid by the passenger) than ATM projects which have been traditionally funded by passengers buying airline tickets.

Secondly the projects being submitted are not yet following a coherent strategy, if you look at the “implementation gaps” there are clearly areas that are not yet being addressed, and other areas that could be addressed by implementation projects with a wider geographic scope.

In this regard the SDM response is pragmatic: with a plea to stakeholders to focus on closing identified gaps  with, where possible, larger projects. Indeed the latest Deployment Programme (released on the 4th October) contains for the first time the implementation gaps that should be addressed in the forthcoming call. It also contains strategic plans for deployment of Initial SWIM (AF5) and Initial Trajectory Information Sharing (AF6), the latter providing a plan to address the current issues with VDL2 performance and datalink implementation. It is now up to the operational stakeholders to come up with proposals for implementation projects that address the priorities identified.

The 2016 Call will be first where the Deployment Programme should act as the primary reference for proposals (along with any priorities that the Commission may decide to add to the call text).

It is also important to remember that, legally speaking, the Commission has to initiate a review of the PCP by the end of the year. This seems timely as it will allow the Commission to reflect on the achievement of three calls for CEF funding. But it should not be assumed that the review will lead to fundamental changes in the PCP. The purpose should be primarily seen as helping the Commission to determine if additional regulatory measures would support timely achievement of the PCP goals. Regulators should only change rules as a last resort; the revision clause is not a “get out of jail card” for recalcitrant stakeholders but more a fresh chance to consider the balance of “carrot and stick” in achieving the aims or to address any issues that would prevent States achieving compliance.

So maybe the PCP review should be seen more as a lessons learnt exercise prior to launching the process for determining the contents of the next Common Project?

About Paul Ravenhill

Paul Ravenhill is Director of Capability Development at Think. With over 25 years’ experience in air transport covering system development, Research and Development and consultancy, Paul has built up a deep knowledge of European ATM from an operational, technical and regulatory perspective. Paul uses this knowledge to support service providers, regulators and supply industry adapt to regulatory and technical change required by the legislation to improve operational performance and cost-effectiveness. View all posts by Paul Ravenhill →