Background on Single European Sky

European ATM is an extremely complicated process. Europe does not have a single ATM framework whereby air navigation is managed at a European level. Europe also has some of the busiest skies in the world with as many as 33,000 flights a day.

The Single European Sky (SES) is an ambitious initiative launched by the European Commission in 2004 to reform the architecture of European ATM. It proposes a legislative approach to meet future capacity and safety needs at a European rather than local level.


The key objectives of the SES are:

  • To restructure European airspace as a function of air traffic flows
  • To create additional capacity
  • To increase the overall efficiency of the air traffic management system.


In order to fulfil these objectives, the European Commission set high-level goals for the SES in 2012 to be met by 2020 and beyond:

  • Enable a 3-fold increase in capacity which will also reduce delays both on the ground and in the air
  • Improve safety by a factor of 10
  • Enable a 10% reduction in the effects flights have on the environment
  • Provide ATM services to the airspace users at a cost of at least 50% less


SESAR is the technological dimension of the Single European Sky. It aims to create a ‘paradigm shift’, supported by state-of-the-art and innovative technology, in order to help the SES reach these high level goals.


Achieving a truly seamless Single European Sky and deploying results developed by SESAR in the agreed time frame are key initiatives for achieving a Single European Transport area.”

Matthias Ruete, Director-General for Mobility and Transport European Commission 


SESAR on Wikipedia