IATA has warned that it cannot recommend sustaining the current level of investment in the Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR) program if it does not start generating some of the anticipated benefits.
Speaking at the inaugural World ATM Congress in Madrid, IATA DG and CEO Tony Tyler told delegates: "For too long, the success of SES was equated with the success of the SESAR project. SESAR is swallowing billions of euros of investment, much of it funded by airlines, to supposedly make SES a reality. But the actual reality is that SES is a political challenge, not a technological one."
Tyler said that technology alone was not the answer and that it had to be accompanied by the political will for reform.
"Technology benefits will remain limited while the physical and political borders on the ground translate into operational borders in the air. The deployment of SESAR is interdependent with the institutional and political framework; we cannot recommend sustaining the investment in SESAR if the approach is to be new technology into old airspace architecture," he said.
The airspace user community has the right to endorse any cost benefit analyses emerging from SESAR. The first is under development and is due for completion by the end of March, following which IATA will review it through March and April.
Tyler said there was "a stark contrast" between the progress of the SES and the US NextGen program which included "delivery of funding, establishment of innovative infrastructure deployment to fixed deadlines, and focused initiatives for airspace redesign at the busiest terminal areas."
Tyler stressed: “We cannot afford for these two flagship initiatives to progress at different speeds; airlines need harmonization both on standards and on timing in order that we get the best value from our investments."