New partnership formed to drive modernisation and digitalisation of European Air Traffic Management

The A6 Alliance, as one of the signatories of the industry declaration on the future of the Single European Sky, praises the cooperative spirit of all the operational stakeholders to jointly commit to contribute to improving the European ATM system.

Being heavily involved in the technical and operational developments and deployment of SESAR solutions, the A6 Alliance believes that digital transformation is fundamental to deliver the Europe-wide systems and technology developments to support the move towards a Digital European Sky.

The A6 Alliance sees the need to transform the initial airspace architecture transition plan into a realistic and robust detailed implementation plan, based on mature and validated concepts.

ANSPs want to play a proactive role in the implementation of measures to improve the ATM network as a whole, but they cannot do it alone. Achieving a high performing and modern network requires the involvement and cooperation of all partners across the industry (ANSPs, Airports, Airspace Users, Staff and the EU Network Manager) and of Member States and the EU institutions. The joint declaration is a strong commitment towards such a change.

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Europe must build on its strong safety record and harness the expertise and skill of existing airspace managers

Safety and conspicuity must be at the heart of moves to address the rapidly increasing use of drones, building on and drawing from Europe’s excellent safety record and ensuring today’s high standards are maintained.

In a new paper published today, the A6 Alliance of air navigation service providers (ANSP) says the growth in the use of drones for commercial and recreational purposes presents both huge opportunities and significant challenges. Safely accommodating a new class of airspace user in Europe’s already busy skies requires careful planning and strong cooperation across both manned and unmanned industries.

Integrating drones alongside manned aviation, rather than creating new areas of segregated airspace, is critical to making best use of constrained airspace capacity and ensuring safety. 

Roberta Neri, Chair of the A6 Alliance, said: “ANSPs are required to provide fair and equitable access to airspace for all airspace users and we must safeguard that.  ANSPs are uniquely positioned to provide a neutral core set of services on which U-Space services can flourish, ensuring a shared picture of the airspace between both manned and unmanned airspace users that enhances safety and enables fair and strong competition in the industry.

“The best way to enable the safe growth of this emerging industry is to build on the services that already exist to support safe use of the airspace and to ensure all airspace users share a common picture of what is happening in the airspace around them.”

The A6 Alliance paper sets out the critical role that ANSPs have to play in safely integrating the European Commission’s ‘U-space’ initiative with Europe’s existing manned aviation.

This will not be the same as their role in today’s air traffic management system. It will require new ways of working, new partnerships and new attitudes but equally, it should build on the significant experience that ANSPs have accumulated in managing busy, complex airspace and contributing to industry-leading safety performance. The A6 Alliance paper, “Safely integrating drones in to Europe’s airspace: Building on experience, progressing through partnership” is available on the  A6 Alliance website

View the report

The A6 Alliance notes with interest the report of the Wise Persons Group (WPG), which was commissioned by the European Commission (EC) to provide an additional perspective on the future direction of the Single European Sky (SES) and its institutional framework.

The A6 Alliance will now study carefully the recommendations in the report and respond fully in due course.

Our initial reaction is that while this report provides a useful additional perspective, its recommendations have to be considered in the framework of the wider inputs that should inform the evolution of European ATM strategy.  Policy makers must recognise that the path to successfully reform the European aviation system must include the ATM providers and the wider aviation industry which are at the sharp end of delivering the services required and the safety levels expected.  As raised during the WPG hearings, all the operational stakeholders must be fully engaged and contributing in delivering the required network performance.

The ATM industry is already developing and implementing technologies to support the SES:

  • The SESAR Deployment Manager (SDM) is an industry-for-industry model which includes Europe’s leading airlines, airports and ANSPs, which we firmly believe to be the model best equipped to manage the complex transition to a Single European Airspace System (SEAS). It has already made specific progress in complex areas, for instance unblocking files such as Datalink Services and ADS-B which remained unsolved until the industry took the lead.
  • The A6 Alliance initiative to develop a SES Digital Backbone (SDB), launched last year, is well placed to enable the Digital European Sky proposed by the Airspace Architecture Study, referenced by the WPG. The SDB, to be managed through a Shared Services Alliance of operational stakeholders, demonstrates the maturity and deep understanding of the ATM industry.

It is therefore clear to the A6 Alliance that while we support the need for a stronger network approach to the management of traffic across Europe, this must be both collective and inclusive.

It is vital that the aviation industry is closely and fully involved in considering the next steps of improving the EU ATM system.   Meanwhile, it is essential that momentum is maintained on current SDM activities.

The discussion about the WPG’s recommendations provides another opportunity for all the stakeholders in this critically important initiative to cooperate in finding solutions for the future of aviation in Europe.  Delivering the Single European Sky requires a constant and constructive dialogue and effective collaborative engagement.

The A6 Alliance looks forward to playing a full part in the next steps of planning and delivering for European ATM modernisation.

The A6 Alliance of air navigation service providers (ANSPs) and EUROCONTROL today launch a joint initiative to establish a “digital backbone” to underpin the Europe-wide systems and technology developments supporting the move towards a Single European Sky (SES).

They have issued a White Paper exploring how a shared data exchange infrastructure can be set up by the European ATM industry, and are looking to initiate an inclusive industry-wide discussion among operational stakeholders on how best to achieve it.

Roberta Neri, Chair of the A6 Alliance, said: “Our industry needs to rely increasingly on automated sharing, merging and presenting of information from diverse sources. Digitalising our business end-to-end will support incrementally improved operational performance adding great value to our airline customers. To achieve this important goal we need a coordinated approach. The White Paper, introducing the concept of a “SES Digital Backbone” and its collaborative and inclusive governance, is a first step towards achieving a consensus in our industry on how best to do that.”

Eamonn Brennan, Director General of EUROCONTROL, added: “This White Paper is a means of bringing the industry together to establish that “backbone” for digital transformation.  This is a major project for European ATM and to achieve it we will all need to be very flexible whilst having a strong core. Working together with the A6 Alliance has demonstrated how similar our thinking is around the future infrastructure, and now we need the wider industry, including airspace users and airports, to consider our suggestions and to make their own.”

The SES Digital Backbone (SDB) would underpin the essential data exchange infrastructure to create an over-arching framework for the wide range of SES implementation projects. Initially it proposes to build on the successful NewPENS approach to expand this to other key systems projects such as Data-Link and System Wide Information Management (SWIM) common components and ensuring interoperability support.

Over time and where necessary, the scope could widen to include further shared IT capabilities required for the inclusive, safe and cyber secure end-to-end digitalisation of European ATM. EUROCONTROL’s expertise and facilitation capabilities would be an important asset in realising this evolution.

The White Paper highlights the importance of coordinating important decisions such as how stakeholders can access operations-grade information and which technologies are introduced to the SDB and when. It advocates that effective set-up, operation and evolution of the SDB require the input of all operational stakeholders.

To this end, the White Paper proposes the establishment of an all-inclusive SES Shared Services Alliance (the “3SA”), to pursue three main objectives:

  1. Ensure the SDB operates in best market conditions for shared services and technological components;
  2. Establish a collaborative and inclusive governance to ensure the SDB meets operational stakeholders’ needs;
  3. Provide a common forum for fostering collaboration on shared technologies.

Ms Neri said: “Better access to data, and sharing it, requires a common “backbone” in order to modernise our industry and to create the capacity needed to meet growing demand and to increase efficiency. There is a pressing need to accelerate the evolution of the European ATM system. This includes making sure that operational stakeholders can effectively and efficiently integrate technological solutions developed by SESAR. We need a light and agile approach to help achieve that. We are convinced the SES Digital Backbone, governed by operational stakeholders on a “by-industry-for-industry” basis through the SES Shared Services Alliance, could be the way.”

She urged stakeholders from across the industry to consider the White Paper and offer their feedback.  This can be done via the EUROCONTROL website at and replying to the email address

The A6 Alliance actively participated in the workshop on the Airspace Architecture Study organised by the SESAR Joint Undertaking on July 5th and 6th in Brussels, welcoming the opportunity for all operational stakeholders and manufacturers to set the terms for a common vision toward the evolution of the Air Traffic Management system, with the aim to address traffic growth and future challenges building on new technologies, digitisation and space-based services.

A6 representative, Iacopo Prissinotti from ENAV S.p.A., presented the A6 Alliance’s vision of upper airspace within Europe in which aircraft trajectories both for safety (deconfliction) and efficiency would be handled through consistent and widespread application of advanced ATM tools, supported by harmonised airspace classifications and rules. He argued that the goal is to ensure that flights within the upper airspace are not trajectory constrained by national boundaries or ATM service provider and should be highly resilient to perturbations that could occur through technical failures, adverse weather or social/industrial issues. High degrees of cooperation between all actors, together with intelligent regulation and political support represent the key enablers to drive a highly efficient network.

The A6 Alliance agrees with the European Court of Auditors’ assessment that the High Level Goals initially set for Single European Sky (SES) initiative are no longer applicable, and thus will support the European Commission on setting a new vision with ambitious but achievable goals for all operational stakeholders.

During the workshop all stakeholders acknowledged that the SESAR programme and the ATM Masterplan are the building blocks for the future ATM system in Europe and that the Airspace Architecture study should build on this existing work and align with it.

A6 Strategy Board Chair, Jonathan Astill from NATS said: “The ATM system within Europe, one of the most advanced in the world and which safely manages millions of flights a year, constitutes an important and valuable asset that needs to be protected. Through the SESAR Programme, the A6 Alliance has identified and already started deploying new operational concepts and technologies that are the fundamental enablers in achieving the SES objectives. Significant investments are already being made in new tools and technologies as well as in training of personnel, thus enhancing safety, capacity and efficiency in the coming years.”  Political support is now needed to boost and implement the industrial strategy, encouraging cooperation between all aviation partners and paving the way to performance-based regulation with the right incentives to drive the necessary change.

The CEOs of the A6 Alliance met yesterday with Commissioner Violeta Bulc, EU Commissioner for Transport in Brussels.

Discussion focused on the modernisation of Air Traffic Management services and the upcoming regulatory and technological challenges that the European Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) will face in the future. The A6 Alliance has reconfirmed its commitment to the SESAR programme for both R&D and Deployment activities. As also shown by the Commission’s proposal for the next Multiannual Financial Framework, research and innovation will continue to play a major role in Europe; A6 Alliance members are willing to engage with all stakeholders in achieving safer European skies which can address environmental concerns as well as accommodating expected traffic growth.

The topic of drones was also addressed in order to confirm ANSP’s commitment to ensure the safe integration of drones in European skies.

Commissioner Bulc (fourth from left) in working discussion with CEOs of the A6 Alliance

The A6 Alliance is a coalition of European ANSPs committed to the modernisation of the European ATM system. It was founded in 2011 and includes DFS, DSNA, ENAIRE, ENAV, NATS, PANSA, Austro Control, Croatia Control, IAA, LFV, Naviair, ANS CR, LPS, Oro Navigagcija, Skyguide. The members of the A6 Alliance are responsible for the safe management of more than 80% of Europe’s air traffic, and more than 70% of the investment in the future European ATM infrastructure

The A6  an Alliance of air navigation service providers (ANSPs) across Europe who are committed to modernise the European ATM system – has widened its cooperation to the ANSPs of Switzerland, Hungary and Romania and has also agreed on the new chairmanship of the A6 Alliance for the year 2018.

Widening the A6 Alliance (from left): Thomas Hoffmann (COOPANS); Valentin Cimpuieru (ROMATSA); Klaus-Dieter Scheurle, Chairman of the A6 Alliance; Maurice George (DSNA and for Consortium with Skyguide); Janusz Niedziela (PANSA and for Consortium Romatsa/HungaroControl); Klaus Meier (Skyguide)


At its latest meeting on  December 12th the Steering Board of the A6 Alliance formally appointed Roberta Neri, CEO of the Italian ANSP ENAV as chairperson of the A6 Alliance in 2018. Ms. Neri follows Prof. Klaus-Dieter Scheurle, CEO of the German ANSP DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung, who chaired the A6 Alliance during the last two years.

Furthermore the Steering Board widened the Alliance. Switzerland’s ANSP Skyguide has joined the A6 Alliance through a consortium with French DSNA. In addition the Alliance signed a cooperation agreement with HungaroControl and Romatsa for the SESAR Deployment Mananger Function through a consortium led by PANSA.

Strive for partnership and efficiency

The A6 Alliance strives for an open partnership and for keeping its ability to act efficiently.

Therefore, the CEOs of the A6 Alliance have signed further agreements, confirmimg their cooperation in order to achieve the goals set by the Single European Sky (SES) and deliver an even more efficient and safe European ATM system. The A6 Alliance has set up its 2018 roadmap, reaffirming the core role of ANSPs as one of the main drivers to successfully deploy SESAR technology and operational concepts, thus strengthening the competitiveness and sustainability of the entire EU air transport value network.

A6 expertise, an essential support to innovation in ATM

Since the launch of SESAR 1, A6 Alliance members, together with their SJU partners, have achieved significant results (development of 63 successfully completed SESAR solutions). In SESAR 2020, the A6 partners are engaged in all 25 projects (leading eight of those) ensuring the development of 46 new operational solutions.

The A6 Alliance, core investor in SESAR deployment roadmap

The SESAR Deployment Alliance (SDA) industrial consortium, that performs the role of the SESAR Deployment Manager for the European Commission (SDM) and was founded and operated by the A6 and other partners, has reached an important milestone in its progress towards transitioning to operate as a legal entity starting from January 1st 2018.

By the coordination of the SDM, a co-funding of 69 projects with a co-fund sum of EUR 261 million under the 2016 CEF Transport Call has been concluded. SESAR is now the leading Horizontal priority under CEF (it represents more than EUR 1.4 billion of cumulated grants).

The projects to implement the Pilot Common Project (PCP) requirements completed by 2017 represent more than EUR 1.3 billion of investments into Europe’s ATM modernisation, a major part of which are ANSPs’ investments, co-funded by the EU with EUR 670 million. A6 members are also strongly involved in supporting the SDM for the Data Link implementation management and have defined a solid roadmap for the further evolution of this critical enabler for the European ATM.

Feeding European ATM strategy

The A6 offered key expertise to the SESAR Joint Undertaking to help completion of the  comprehensive draft of Common Project 2 regulation by November 2017. The A6 was able to feed this work with its collaboratively elaborated Surveillance Strategy Outcomes (cross border synergies, Mode-S Clustering, Mode A/C decommissioning, ADS-B Mandate enlargement) which demontrates the committment of ANSPs to modernise and transform ATM in Europe. The A6 has also taken the leadership in setting up a SWIM Governance based on four objectives: interoperability, trust, a collaborative approach and implementation support. Complementing these activities, a successful collaboration is on track with 41 ANSPs and EUROCONTROL for the new pan-European network service (NewPENS) and the A6 Alliance will secure an efficient governance of this structuring common service.

Trust is at the core of the successful collaboration of the A6 Alliance, trust between its members and trust in its capacity to deliver tangible benefits to SESAR and wider SES. This philosophy will stay at the core of A6 action in 2018.

The SESAR Deployment Alliance (SDA) has launched a hunt for Head of Strategy, Technical and Operations (STO) for the SESAR Deployment Manager (SDM).  The post has become vacant due to the promotion of Nicolas Warinsko, who will take up the post of General Manager of the SDA Association Internationale Sans But Lucratif (AISBL), the not-for-profit organisation set up to run the SESAR DM.  The new role reports direct to Mr Warinsko and takes effect from 01 January 2018.  Further information on the role can be found on the SDM website.

The SESAR Deployment Alliance (SDA) industrial consortium, performing the role of the SESAR Deployment Manager (SDM) for the European Commission, has reached an important milestone in its progress towards transitioning to operate as a legal entity at the end of the year. The legal entity is a not-for-profit “International Association”, set up according to Belgian law (AISBL). It has now received its Royal Decree. The new organisation is planned to become operational on the 1st January 2018. It is anticipated that the current industry membership will continue with the possibility of new members joining.

The transfer to the new organisation is being undertaken in order to consolidate and simplify the management of the activities of synchronising the deployment of the Pilot Common Project (PCP), the review of the PCP and the role as Datalink Services (DLS) implementation manager. The aim is to optimise the structure and management processes behind the SDM function, and to ensure improved satisfaction levels from both the European Commission as well as operational stakeholders at all levels.

The reorganisation is focussed on internal management and processes. The SDA will be working closely with the Commission on the detail of the transition to ensure a smooth transfer of activities. There will be no impact on the scope of the work carried out with policy and operational stakeholders, but the transition will enhance the SDA’s commitment to being a performance-driven organisation in delivering the SESAR Deployment task.