According to the Regulation (EC) No. 549/2004, a Functional Airspace Block is "an airspace block based on operational requirements (such as safety, capacity, cost), reflecting the need to ensure more integrated management of the airspace regardless of existing national boundaries“.
Functional airspace blocks (FABs) constitute one of the cornerstones of the Single European Sky legislation and policy. FABs aim to reduce the fragmentation of the European ATM network and thus to improve performance.
In 2012 nine FABs were created, caring for the progress of the aviation industry: the airspace users, airports and the environment. FABs consist of State institutions, national supervision and certification authorities, air navigation service providers and military aviation.
The main areas of cooperation among FAB members are the following:
• Airspace configuration / ATFM, including flight efficiency, Free route, Integrated ASM, Integrated ATFCM, Cross border areas;
• Technical systems harmonisation as an enabler for Cross Border Service provision, including dynamic sectorisation, Joint Contingency, virtual centres;
• Rationalisation of systems and equipment and supporting services;
• Safety enhancement;
• Social dialogue;
• Best practices;
• User involvement;
• Cost saving through joint measures: joint training and training infrastructure, joint procurements, maintenance, synchronised life cycles of technical ATM systems, harmonised ATM systems and tools, coordination of ANSPs’ investment plans, common CNS infrastructure developments, cross-border service provision or cross-border delegation of ANS, coordinated AIS provision, joint control centres.
Baltic Functional Airspace Block (Baltic FAB) is a cooperative arrangement between Poland and Lithuania in the field of air navigation services. To implement the EU’s Single European Sky concept the States, National Supervisory Authorities and Air Navigation Service Providers (Oro navigacija and PANSA) brought together their expertise, efforts and willingness for innovative changes. The main focus of the Baltic FAB is optimal performance of all users of two countries’ aggregated airspace comprising Warsaw and Vilnius flight information regions (FIRs).
For Oro navigacija (Lithuania) and PANSA (Poland) Baltic FAB is a window of opportunity for all FAB members in various areas like industrial partnership, international cooperation, best practice sharing, research and development. Baltic FAB members work together to improve the individual performance of each member as well as to create synergies for the whole Baltic FAB in order to meet challenges of global diversity
Baltic FAB strategic objectives:
• To extend the scope by involving other FABs, ANSPs, and non-EU States;
• To develop innovative solutions;
• To operate as a single business-oriented, efficient organization;
• To introduce and promote a value-driven organizational model;
• To provide services not linked to the site of provision.
Baltic FAB has already become a solid cooperation platform for Oro navigacija and PANSA with numerous achievements:
• Establishment (together with LPS SR and ANS CR, air navigation service providers of Slovak and Czech Republics) of the B4 Consortium to participate in the SESAR 2020 Research and Innovation Programme and entrance into Gate One arrangement to maintain better contacts with other States and FABs;
• Membership in ITEC alliance which provides access to and the capacity to leverage expertise of other partners;
• Joint procurement of the ATM and A-SMSGS systems;
• Initial FRA has been initiated consistent with ERNIP;
• Joint initiatives of co-operation with non-EU ANSPs;
• Co-ordination of SAR work;
• Common communication strategy and tactic plan;
• Best practice sharing on training, social dialog, operational activities.
The ongoing activities include:
• Implementation of the initial Baltic FAB ATM solution;
• Interoperability between iTEC and other air traffic control systems, establishment of the contingency planning procedures in order to provide more effective cross-border services designed for collaboration with other FABs and non-EU member states;
• Local air traffic complexity management (Oro navigacija and PANSA are to deploy Traffic Complexity tools which continuously monitor and evaluate current and expected traffic loads and estimated controller’s workload in order to optimise the use of available capacity);
• implementation of a plan which delivers cross border operations, dynamic sectorisation and mutual contingency operations;
• Strengthening of collaboration with other FABs and collaboration with non-EU member states.