Lack of pan-European coordination of airspace has cost an estimated 150 billion Euros in lost GDP and has contributed to 150 million extra tonnes of CO2 pumped into the air over the past decade. The Icelandic volcanic ash eruption in Spring 2010 and huge resulting delays at European airports speeded up long standing calls to unify European air traffic control management, both for commercial and military flights. It also led to the creation of a European Crisis Coordination group. Brussels-based Eurocontrol, which acts as an intergovernmental liaison on airspace issues, is committed to safer air traffic management, especially in times of crisis like the Icelandic volcano incident.
Europe's airspace remains one of the most congested in the world. Pilots fly through a multitude of air space changes for even short haul routes such as Brussels to Geneva--handed off to as many as 5 national air traffic control authorities over a flight of only 80 minutes.The new initiative calls for Functional Airspace Blocks or FABs. These sectors are organised on the basis of efficiency targets, not member state borders. Civil society groups believe a truly single European airspace could greatly cut flight times, thus saving EU citizens an estimated €920 million, as well as reduce carbon emissions by 12%. Additional fuel costs and flying times from inefficient routing cost nearly 4 billion Euros in 2011.
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