Functional Airspace Block Central Europe (abbr. FAB CE) is a project of seven countries – the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, their air traffic service providers (ANS CR, LPS SR, AustroControl, HungaroControl, Slovenia Control, Crocontrol and BHANSA), then supervisory authorities (civil aviation authorities), the military aviation of these states and certain other institutions. A certain part of the support for this project is provided by the EUROCONTROL Agency and the project is financially supported by the European Union through structural funds for transport.
The FAB CE project is one of the main activities of ANS CR that, on the international scene, has strategic importance for the future direction of our company in the European ATM environment.
Reasons and Bases for FABs Creation
Functional Airspace Block (FAB) is a common airspace block of several neighboring states, the organization of which is based on the operational requirements of airspace users.
The current form of the European ATM environment is based more on the geographical definition of individual states rather than the actual operational needs of its users. The efforts of the European Commission aimed at the necessary change was supported by a package of legislative regulations called Single European Sky, whose main objectives are the harmonization and defragmentation of European ATM leading to an increased performance, i.e. to increased capacity, increased efficiency, a systematic increase in safety and reduction in the negative impact of aviation on the environment. A part of the Single European Sky regulation, among other things, is the creation of functional airspace blocks in Europe.
FAB CE Project Development
In 1997, the CEATS agreement was concluded (Central European Air Traffic Services), aimed at providing centralized air traffic services in the upper airspace of participating countries. During the project implementation, however, conditions changed so much (e. g. SES legislation, new capacities in the region) that the original plans had to be completely revised. The basic principles of the new solution were formulated in 2006.
In the period from April 2007 to February 2008, a feasibility study on the creation of a functional airspace block (FAB) in the region of Central Europe was elaborated in accordance with the new assignment. The main output of the study, the document FAB CE Master Plan, proposing the form of FAB CE (Functional Airspace Block Central Europe), met the SES legislation and was supported by the economic and safety analysis. In March 2008, the supreme body of the CEATS project (CEATS Coordinating Group) discussed and approved the results of the feasibility study and simultaneously decided to continue the project and the FAB implementation.
In May 2008, the directors of participating LNS providers signed the Cooperation Memorandum, which laid down the basic framework and rules for processing the FAB CE implementation plan and its subsequent implementation. Then, in June 2008, at the ministerial conference, the representatives of the participating states signed a declaration, by which the signatories of the CEATS agreement confirmed the procedure for terminating the CEATS agreement and the procedure for creating the FAB CE agreement.
In 2010 the preparatory phase of the project for creating a functional airspace block in Central Europe FAB CE was completed. A key output of this phase is the implementation plan for a static scenario (Implementation Plan for Static Area of Responsibility Scenario), which describes the implementation steps for the upcoming season. In 2010, some partial implementation steps were also made that do not require a formal agreement between the states and therefore, they could be implemented before the signing of the above agreement. They are based on the implementation schedule for the initial scenario (FAB CE Implementation Schedule for Initial Scenario).
A necessary condition for launching the FAB is the signing and subsequent ratification of an international FAB CE agreement by the parliaments of participating states. The text of this agreement was drawn up in 2010, and the agreement itself was signed in May 2011 in Slovenia. The content of the agreement has been extensively consulted with representatives of the European Commission. The necessary coordination and cooperation at a national level (ministries of transport and defense and national supervisory authorities) were generally roofed by the Memorandum of Understanding. All seven participating countries - Bosnia and Herzegovina, Czech Republic, Croatia, Hungary, Austria, Slovakia and Slovenia - ratified the Agreement on the creation of a functional airspace block in the region of Central Europe - the FAB CE Agreement, in 2012, after being signed at the level of Ministers of Transport.
A significant shift in mutual cooperation was also made by the national supervisory authorities (NSA) of participating countries, which concluded an agreement on mutual cooperation in the FAB’s development and functioning (NSA Cooperation Agreement) in spring 2011.
In 2012, the document, Free Route Concept, was drafted and approved at the level of providers of air traffic services, which includes quite fundamental changes in the possibility of using the FAB CE airspace. Specifically concerned is the possibility of direct lines in certain parts of airspace in accordance with the objectives of the SESAR project (Business trajectories).
The need for strategic orientation of the FAB CE project in the light of new facts that have occurred in the field of ATM in the last few years, forced the representatives of air traffic service providers to start activities aimed at creating a long-term FAB CE strategy. During the years 2012 and 2013 a document outlining the strategic orientation of the FAB CE was created in accordance with the relevant European strategic documents, namely the Network Strategic Plan, Interim Deployment Programme SESAR and of course all the regulations of the Single European Sky initiative, particularly related to the creation of FAB performance plans. Based on the above-mentioned strategic orientation, an approval of the updated FAB CE strategy is expected in the first half of 2014.
Some phases of the FAB CE project were implemented with the support of the European Structural Funds TEN-T (Trans-European Network for Transport).
Additional information about the FAB CE
Further related information can be found on the website of the FAB CE project. This includes, for example, basic project documents (ANSP Cooperation Agreement, FAB CE Agreement, National Supervisory Authorities Co-operation Agreement, Social Dialogue Charter).