Registration and identification: worth the effort?

This article was originally published on Drone Alliance Europe’s website. More information on Drone Alliance Europe can be found here.

In the midst of the on-going discussion over how EASA’s proposed ‘Open Category’ drones should be defined, there remains the issue of identification. Whether or not they are ‘toys’,  identifying them and their operators is vital to maintaining civil order. The Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS) hosted a workshop in mid-May to discuss how such a system might work in the UK.

Despite a full day of discussion, there was agreement on only thing: there definitely needs to be a system of registration and identification.

The broad spectrum of speakers that the RAeS invited made it difficult to find a consensus.

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Airlines continue to tolerate legacy subsidies

The Russian economy is struggling. Falling oil prices, economic sanctions and the decline in the value of the Rouble have pushed the country into recession. Fortunately its national airline, Aeroflot, can still count on a steady income stream, thanks to the overflight fees it levies on foreign airlines flying across Russian airspace.

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Pot. Kettle. Black.

Last month saw the release of a report commissioned by IATA on the economic benefits of modernising European airspace. It estimates total benefits worth between €126 billion and €245 billion by 2035. (Incidentally, a 2011 report in by the consultancy McKinsey put the benefits at €419 billion by 2030 alone. Have the delays in implementing the Single European Sky (SES) already wiped out €200 billion of benefits?)

The purpose of this report is discussed in this month’s Aviation Intelligence Reporter. Think winning hearts and minds. Or rather, bribing hearts and wallets. It is an attempt to persuade member states of the importance of implementing the SES as soon as possible. The Commission, for too long the misplaced target of the airlines’ ire, must also engage in winning hearts and minds. For the current SES packages to succeed, ANSPs and member states need to be persuaded that there is something in it for them

There is one issue in this report that is worth further discussion.

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The new runway. Who’s going to pay?

With the news this month Dublin Airport is building another runway comes the inevitable questions from airlines – how much is it going to cost and who is going to pay for it?

History suggests that getting all sides to agree on the answers to these questions will not be easy. Back in 2005, the decision to construct a second terminal at Dublin Airport led to a bitter and protracted dispute between Ryanair, daa (the owners of Dublin Airport), and the Irish airports regulator, the Commission for Aviation Regulation. A change in management at daa appears to have led to a closer working relationship between Ryanair and the airport in recent years. The construction of the northern runway will be a vital test of this new friendship.

First, the cost: daa has put the cost of constructing the new runway at €320m. Both Aer Lingus and Ryanair have already questioned this figure, which is almost 30% higher than the original estimate of €250m. Ryanair has previously suggested the runway could be built for as little as €50m although, like many Ryanair statements, a large pinch of salt is required.

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A remote view

This article was original published in the April edition of the Aviation Intelligence Reporter. For information on subscribing to the Aviation Intelligence Reporter, click here.

The great and good of air traffic management gathered in Madrid last month for the World ATM Congress. All anyone could talk about was remote towers. Some were even seen wearing badges with ‘I heart remote towers’ emboldened across them.

Remote towers are taking off, if you’ll excuse the pun. Many are keen to join the cult. There was talk of remote towers operating in Dubai, Germany, Norway and Singapore as well as further operations in Sweden. The idea of extending the notion of remote management to entire airport operations was also touted. LFV, the Swedish ANSP, were keen to be sure that everybody realised they were the leaders in this area.

As positive as the story is around remote towers, it flags up one of the weaknesses of the ATM industry: an obsession with technology as the solution to all its problems.

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Striking controllers demonstrate the scourge of sovereignty

Subtlety is not Ryanair’s strongpoint. Its business has grown on the back of in-your-face advertising campaigns and a CEO not afraid to steal the limelight. Ryanair is essentially the bad boy of European aviation. The cool kid with the devil-may-care attitude, who everyone admires but no one has the guts to be.

Ryanair’s current headline-grabbing campaign is an online petition for, first, the removal of air traffic controllers’ right to strike and, second, to allow other European controllers to manage flights over French airspace during any strikes. Frustrated passengers, whose holiday plans have been scuppered by striking French or Belgian air traffic controllers, are being encouraged to sign up. Once the petition reaches one million signatories, Ryanair will personally deliver it to the European Commission.

Is this anything more than another Ryanair publicity stunt?

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GMBM. It’s a win-win for airlines.

There has been a flurry of press releases as negotiations get underway towards developing a global market based mechanism (GMBM) for the aviation industry. And, boy, does the airline industry want us to know about it. The GMBM is rapidly turning into a PR exercise rather than a means of addressing the impact of aviation on the environment.

Having somehow slipped out from any obligations at the COP21 negotiations in Paris late last year, all eyes are now turned to ICAO and the GMBM. Getting a GMBM agreed at the ICAO Assembly this year will be essential if the aviation industry is to repair some of its tarnished reputation on environmental matters. In this respect the GMBM is invaluable. Media-savvy environmental groups can no longer complain that aviation is doing nothing to address climate change. Passengers will be able to fly without any guilt. And best of all, its effect on fares, and therefore airline profits, will be minimal.

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How to kill a zombie, European style

We have been investigating how best to kill a zombie. Apparently, whatever your choice of weapon, the key is to aim for the head and don’t miss. Oh, and don’t let it bite you.

The zombie in question is a University of Ghent study on atypical employment in the aviation sector. As discussed in this month’s Aviation Intelligence Reporter, many are treating this study as Gospel evidence that the use of indirect employment contracts in the aviation industry poses a risk to working conditions and safety.

Those who have read the report will wonder why it’s getting so much attention.

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What the CANSO Performance Report doesn’t tell you

Data from CANSO’s latest Global Air Navigation Services Performance Report indicates a worrying deterioration in the cost efficiency of Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) worldwide. Over the period 2010-14, unit costs have increased for almost all of the ANSPs included in CANSO’s survey.

Not that you’d know this from reading the CANSO report, which is keen to highlight that the majority of ANSPs have reduced their unit costs in 2014 in the context of rising traffic. However, further examination indicates that unit costs are generally still higher than they were four years ago, and ‘majority’ actually means 56%.

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