Iacopo Prissinotti, Head of International Strategies, ENAV

SESAR has undoubtedly shaped our future

Aviation is an evolving industry; interoperability and global harmonisation are key for its sustained growth. In Europe, before the creation of the SESAR Joint Undertaking (SESAR JU), there had been no fully coordinated approach to air traffic management (ATM), especially as air navigation service providers (ANSPs) lacked a common view of the evolution of ATM technology.

So the SESAR JU was set up by the European Commission to modernise and harmonise ATM systems, delivering technological and operational solutions that for the first time would be defined, developed and deployed through a single entity made up of Europe’s industrial stakeholders, which included the largest ANSPs. Within the SESAR JU, research and development (R&D) knowledge and resources were shared. That was really a first! But of course it implied a need to integrate ideas, plans and strategies which, until then, had been undertaken by individual organisations.

Following the launch of the SESAR JU definition programme, ANSPs – singularly weak partners in the initial project framework - met in a Brussels restaurant to reach a very simple target: to agree a common strategy for the definition of the various ANSP leadership roles in the different work packages. We were aiming to achieve collectively what could not be achieved individually and to avoid potential conflicts between ANSPs and other stakeholders involved in the negotiation process. The meeting went on until five o’clock in the morning but at the end we were able to present to the SESAR JU our common, united proposal for ANSP participation in the Joint Undertaking.

Our vision has brought about true change. I was convinced of the paramount importance of our strategic role so I promptly invited all potential SJU ANSP members to Rome to help lay the foundations of a common group, the A6 (initially A5) alliance. It was the time to act. ANSPs had to make a paradigm shift so they could be seen as the key stakeholders in the value chain.

To me, this is the most important result of the work, notwithstanding the value of the SJU or other bodies: we built an unprecedented industrial “consensus view” within the SJU framework. This does not mean we were always successful in our outputs; we still need to add value and increase our contribution to the well-consolidated, high-performing SJU R&D programme.

The ambition of our performance has also paved the way for the European Commission to recognise our industrial and strategic roles across the entire value chain. From the first wave of SESAR deployment - such as the Pilot Common Project (PCP), to which I personally contributed as the A6/ANSPs’ representative on the SJU ad hoc Steering Group – we achieved the creation of the Deployment Manager, the evolution of the European ATM Master Plan, the synergies and consistencies with the Deployment Programme and the Network Strategy Plan. Building on our experience in the SJU, we have now been called on to make a further step to re-inforce our political and strategic roles within the Deployment Manager.

We all have to acknowledge how the SJU has delivered on its vision - “Today’s partners for tomorrow’s aviation”. Partnership has been the real change - in addition to achieving widely recognised industrial objectives and the standardisation of operational processes for the benefit of the ATM community and its end users. Airlines have played an important role in the technical evolution of the future ATM system; they have shared our challenges and gradually contributed to the achievement of our common goals.

The immense effort of SESAR 1 has undoubtedly shaped our future. We have attained our ambitions and this will change the way the solutions are deployed.

Let me add just few final lines recalling the very many discussions and meetings held with Patrick Ky and Florian Guillermet, the right and valuable leaders of the SESAR Joint Undertaking. At the end of our negotiations, we always reached agreement thanks their recognised political and technical skills complemented by our united know-how and expertise. This made us find excellent solutions, and much more important than this, we created partnership: this is the true value and spirit of the SESAR initiative and the best is yet to come!