Fragmentation – a blessing and a curse

Fragmentation in Europe’s air traffic management (ATM) system has long been blamed for slow progress towards the creation of a Single European Sky. But without a clear understanding of how and why fragmentation occurs it is hard to determine the best way to manage its impact. Fragmentation is found in many areas: from the institutional bodies that govern ATM activity, to the service providers who manage the airspace. It can result in additional procedures, but it can also lead to improved performance and enhanced efficiency at local level. For example, devolving decisions relating to arrival streams at complex airports enables local factors such as weather and traffic patterns to determine optimum routing.

The European system is far from balanced with areas of high traffic demand and high skill requirements which contribute to fragmentation. Air traffic services rely on a combination of highly automated systems and humans, which means airspace complexity inevitably governs work load and capacity. Efficiency is determined by factors such as controller productivity tools and infrastructure rather than fragmentation. Small Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) can raise performance by merging airspace, however there is a turning point where decreasing returns of scale appear. Europe’s largest ANSPs are less likely to realise economies of scale.

Service provision is just one of many areas affected by fragmentation. Europe is characterised by differences in culture and language, rates of remuneration, tax and legal rights. Nevertheless, optimisation strategies such as Flexible Use of Airspace (FUA) have brought successful collaboration between civil and military interests, and cross-border Free Route Airspace (FRA) continues to play a major role in improving efficiency for airspace users. 
 

Research Workshop
Fragmentation in Air Traffic and its Impact on ATM Performance
14-15 May 2019 in Budapest

On 14-15 May 2019, FAB Central Europe and FAB Europe Central organised a research workshop on Fragmentation in Air Traffic Management taking place in Budapest, Hungary. The conference was held in partnership with the FSR Florence School of Regulation and the German Aviation Research Society (GARS).

Presentations can be found here:

There is also a document available that serves as a compilation of the key messages and all the papers provided. If you would like to order a free copy, please, send us an email: ruediger.mandry[at]dfs.de.