Brexit and Aviation 51

On Friday last, we sat on the ground in Duesseldorf.  Having boarded BA945 ahead of time, we sat waiting for the instruction to go.  We sat on the ground for an hour given the high winds that battered London Heathrow.  That was our intended destination.  As a passenger, this was frustrating, but I know it’s a safe way of managing the large volumes of European air traffic.

Without a doubt, Brexit or no Brexit we have a far from perfect air transport systems in Europe.  Capacity is limited by the dated infrastructure we have in place.   Safety is assured by managing the system as a cooperative effort.  London Heathrow is a challenge given that such large numbers of international aircraft movements take place at a two-runway hub airport.

Since 2011, the European Union has had a Network Manager[1].  This is what was previously called the Central Flow Management Unit (CFMU) based at EUROCONTROL[2] in Brussels.  The Network Manager Operations Centre is a vital part of Europe’s Air Traffic Management (ATM) system.  If you want to peek at what’s happening there’s a public portal showing the current state of the system[3].

In some respects, Summer 2018 pushed the European aviation system to its limits and Summer 2019 promises to present even more challenges.  I cannot conceive of any situation where European ATM will not be of interest to the UK.  Indeed, there’s no indication of the withdrawal of the UK from EUROCONTROL.  Nice as this might sound, Brexit is going to have the impact of pulling the UK out of the major decision-making that that takes place within Europe.

Today, EU regulations determine operations, safety regulation and performance monitoring.  If Brexit goes ahead, the UK will no longer have a leading influence over these EU regulations.  People are starting to plan for how to manage the Summer of 2019.  You might want to think seriously about your holiday choices next year.  We all know what its like to be stranded at airports living out long delays.

News has come in on a matter of great interest about the almost mythical Article 50.  The European Court (ECJ) has sided with petitioners both *against* the European Council/Commission and *against* the UK government.  The UK is free to unilaterally revoke the notification of its intention to withdraw from the EU – Case C-621/18 Wightman #Brexit[4].

This does open an option to the UK.  With such deadlock amongst the politicians and a big campaign to bring about a #PeoplesVote that would seem the wise course of action to take.

[1] COMMISSION REGULATION (EU) No 677/2011 of 7 July 2011 laying down detailed rules for the implementation of air traffic management (ATM) network functions and amending Regulation (EU) No 691/2010.

[2] The European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation (EUROCONTROL)

[3] https://www.public.nm.eurocontrol.int/PUBPORTAL/gateway/spec/index.html

 

[4] https://twitter.com/EUCourtPress/status/1072039706123210752?s=20

 

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