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Established in 2008, the UK-Ireland Functional Airspace Block (FAB) was the first FAB to be founded.  Since then, the partners have consistently selected and planned projects with the close cooperation of stakeholders including airlines and airports, which deliver safety, efficiency and environmental benefits quickly.

In 2013, the UK-Ireland FAB helped the airlines make €30 Million in savings, including 29,000 tonnes of jet fuel and 90,000 tonnes of CO2.  This brings the estimated savings enabled by the FAB between 2008 and 2013 to over €100 Million (including more than 100,000 tonnes of jet fuel and over 310,000 tonnes of CO2.

By 2020, the UK-Ireland FAB will have helped the airlines save over €335 Million. This will include more than 330,000 tonnes of jet fuel and over 1 Million tonnes of CO2.  This work will help secure the future economic and environmental viability of the aviation industry.

Participation in the UK-Ireland FAB is helping Ireland to maintain our position as one of the lowest priced Air Traffic Control (ATC) service providers in Europe and to meet our safety, efficiency and environmental obligations under the Single European Sky Performance Scheme.

For more information on the UK-Ireland FAB and to see how we are helping our airline customers save on operating costs, visit the UK-Ireland FAB website


Background

In the late 1990s the European air traffic management network was affected by congestion, flight delays and inefficiency. In order to address these deficiencies, the European Union decided to bring air traffic management into line with the Community principle of the smooth operation of the internal market and ensure the creation of a Single European Sky (SES).

Two packages of legislation followed, in 2004 and 2009. The legislation is designed, in particular, to improve safety, increase capacity and to restructure the airspace on the basis of traffic needs instead of national frontiers.

One of the cornerstones of the SES legislation is the creation of Functional Airspace Blocks (FABs), defined as an "airspace block based on operational requirements, reflecting the need to ensure more integrated management of the airspace regardless of existing boundaries".

SES legislation required that FABs be established by 4th December 2012. Currently, there are nine FABs under development in Europe, however only two of these have been formally recognised by the EU Commission. These are the UK-Ireland FAB and the FAB between Denmark and Sweden.

The full list of FABs are:

  • UK-Ireland FAB
  • Danish-Swedish FAB
  • Baltic FAB (Lithuania, Poland)
  • BLUE MED FAB (Cyprus, Greece, Italy and Malta)
  • Danube FAB (Bulgaria, Romania)
  • FAB CE (Austria, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovak Republic, Slovenia)
  • FABEC (Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland)
  • North European FAB (Estonia, Finland, Latvia, and Norway)
  • South West FAB (Portugal, Spain).

The UK-Ireland FAB: First in Europe

From the outset, the Governments of Ireland and the UK have been committed to ensuring delivery of the Single European Sky (SES) initiative and to support the Commission's drive on FAB development. Consequently, from the earliest opportunity, at the levels of Air Navigation Service Provider (ANSP), National Supervisory Authority (NSA) and State, Ireland and the UK actively pursued the development of a FAB.

The UK-Ireland FAB formally became operational on the 14th July 2008, following consultation by the Irish and UK Governments with the European Single Sky Committee in May of that year. The FAB has been operating highly successfully ever since and is helping to meet the objectives of the Single European Sky legislation.

To maintain on-going compliance with Single European Sky legislation, in March 2012, the UK-Ireland submitted all necessary paperwork to comply with Article 6 of Regulation (EU) No. 176/2011 on the information to be provided before the establishment and modification of a Functional Airspace Block.  A distinct advantage has resulted in carrying out this exercise; the FAB has been able review its progress to-date, which has helped to revalidate its positive and increasing net contribution to airspace users.

Focus of the UK-Ireland FAB

The underlying objective of the UK-Ireland FAB is to provide added value to its customers through the development of seamless airspace throughout the Ireland and the UK flight information regions (FIR). The FAB is aiming to create seamless airspace within the FAB and the deliverables to-date, including the introduction of network management in March 2012 across the UK-Ireland FAB, is evidence of that.

The FAB focuses on four key areas;

  • Airspace Design (long-term strategic developments),
  • Service Provision (operational / day-to-day developments),
  • Safety (harmonisation of our approach to safety),
  • Technology (collaboration and SESAR alignment).

The UK-Ireland FAB is Europe’s transatlantic gateway.  A core function is integrating North Atlantic traffic flows with UK, Ireland and wider European traffic flows. No other FAB or European ANSP has a similar role on this scale.

By focusing on operational efficiency, the FAB enables the airspace users to utilise the optimum flight profiles for their aircraft, which in turn helps them to reduce their fuel costs and CO2 emissions.

The FAB covers the airspace in the Shannon, London and Scottish FIRs, the Northern Oceanic Transition Areas (NOTA) and the Shannon Oceanic Transition Area (SOTA), controlled by the IAA and NATS (En route services).

Benefits of the FAB

The UK-Ireland FAB has made a significant contribution to the aviation industry and to Single European Sky project since its foundation in 2008.

The UK-Ireland FAB reports periodically on progress and in 2011 completed a Cost Benefit Analysis in line with the EC’s FAB compliance requirements. There is now validated evidence that the FAB is delivering significant added value to customers. The quantitative savings outlined in the FAB Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA) show that:

  • The FAB provided customers with €43.5m in enabled savings (2008-2011), including a reduction of 48,000 tonnes of fuel (152,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions).
  • Estimated customer savings for 2012 were €26.6m, including 25,000 tonnes of fuel (worth €18.7m). The FAB also facilitated customers savings of over 80,000 tonnes of CO2 and €1m in reduced CO2 emissions (ETS) charges. Additional non-fuel savings (reduced maintenance, crew and aircraft ownership costs) are estimated at €6.8m.  
  • The FAB is very cost effective. In 2012 the costs for implementing and managing the FAB are estimated at €3.1m, compared with the enabled customer savings of €26.6m.
  • Total cumulative enabled savings from 2008-2020 are estimated at €336.5m, including 332,000 tonnes of fuel (1.06m tonnes of CO2 emissions).

To drive down fuel costs and environmental emissions, our customers expect the FAB to provide a more efficient operational environment, which in turn enables them to secure their optimum flight profiles.

The FAB has also implemented a number of projects which are delivering critical qualitative benefits which support the airspace users, the ANSPs themselves, and Europe to meet its SES aspiration, including ;

  • Enhanced safety and safety harmonisation,
  • More effective tactical and strategic planning between the ANSPs,
  • More efficient network management,
  • Enhanced coordination on airspace design and cross-FIR airspace management, and
  • Collaborative Technical opportunities and SESAR alignment.

Governance Structure (including direct customer airline participation)

The Governments of Ireland and the United Kingdom have overall responsibility for the UK-Ireland FAB. Regulatory oversight is conducted on behalf of the States by the FAB Supervisory Committee (comprising the UK Civil Aviation Authority and the Safety Regulation Division of the IAA).

The ANSPs manage the implementation of the FAB through the FAB Management Board (FMB). Members of the FMB include directors and senior managers from the ANSPs, military representatives from Ireland and the UK and two representatives of our customer airlines. The FMB is supported by experts in the areas of safety, service provision, airspace design and technology as required.

The inclusion of customer airline representatives (one short-haul and one long-haul) in the FMB helps to ensure that the UK-Ireland FAB maintains a focus on our customers’ priorities.  Periodically, we hold a joint FAB CEO /Customer forum  which provides an opportunity for  our customers to outline their priorities and expectations.  Additionally, the ANSPs provide regular opportunities for our customers to talk to us about their ongoing operational requirements.



For further information, please contact:

Paul Brandon

Manager Stakeholder and Regulatory Affairs

Email: paul.brandon@iaa.ie

Tel: +353 1 603 1493

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