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«% new vision ir transport system Challenges of Air Transport 2030 Survey of experts’ views Foreword The present EUROCONTROL Experimental Centre ...»

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global challenges


new vision

ir transport system

Challenges of Air Transport 2030

Survey of experts’ views


The present EUROCONTROL Experimental Centre report was developed within the Air Transport Evolution research thread

as one of several exploratory studies that constitute the foundations of strategic research on air transport evolution. This

thread aims to provide material to support the EUROCONTROL strategy with an ambition to facilitate informed decisions by

policy makers within the Air Transport community.

The report is a companion document to the EUROCONTROL Challenges of Growth study 2008 (CG08) which provides a long-term vision of air traffic capacity needs. The document reports on the results of a 2007-2008 survey of over 40 leading experts, who were canvassed on their views on the future challenges faced by air transport in Europe as far ahead as the 2030 horizon.

By publishing this work, the aim is to widen understanding and increase awareness within the air transport community of the political and industrial context in which decisions about air transport and its regulation are being made in Europe.

We would like to warmly thank all contributing experts from the European Commission (EC), the European Environment Agency, IATA, ACI Europe, Air Traffic Alliance, Airbus, CANSO, IFATCA, as well as experts from airlines, air navigation service providers, research establishments, and EUROCONTROL, for their willingness, time and fruitful collaboration.

Dave YOUNG, Nadine PILON and Lawrence BROM EUROCONTROL CND Experimental Centre


The present report is a synthesis of views expressed by the interviewees in the survey. The text does not purport to represent a verbatim account; and, while the occasional colloquialism has been retained, remarks made have been paraphrased for clarity.

The views expressed in these pages are personal to the interviewees, and do not necessarily correspond with the views of EUROCONTROL or indeed any other organization named in this report.

The Bibliography cited at the end of this report is provided as a context for the design of the survey or because certain publications have been mentioned during the interviews.

Challenges of Air Transport 2030: Survey of experts’ views Executive Summary Since the advent of commercial air transport, overall air traffic has shown continuous growth. Even the worldwide impact of such conflicts as the Gulf Warof 1991 and the events of 11 September 2001 have depressed air traffic growth for several months only. As a result, future air traffic growth tends to be accepted as a certainty, especially inside the industry.

Future air traffic growth is difficult to predict, but a number of signs are already apparent - airport congestion and capacity limitations, volatility of oil prices, concerns for the global climate, environmental legislation, etc. - which raise questions about the idea of continuous growth. Is air transport reaching maturity in Europe? When and how will air transport experience traffic stabilization? Which are the main drivers behind the evolution of air traffic? What are the risks and how can sustainability of air transport be reinforced? From that which is perceptible today, which influences will prove critical in the future? These are the questions that form the basis of the present survey, which aimed to collect views across the industry about the long-term challenges in air transport to 2030 (as perceived in 2008).

The report is qualitative and collects the views expressed by over 40 leading experts. The views are unreconciled and, in some cases, even contradictory. The report, however, provides a ‘snapshot’ of leading opinions about air transport long-term

evolution drivers. The visions and challenges expressed by the experts fall into three broad categories related to air transport:

demand, supply, and infrastructure.

The views indicate that, in an era when air transport growth is sometimes being challenged, there is evidence for a stable trend in the long-term, even though the political and economic climate will affect its rate.

The expert views highlight the necessity of modernizing air transport infrastructure through SESAR. The successful implementation of SESAR requires: workable solutions for meeting the demands of European regulation; dealing with liability and sovereignty issues in an industrial sector concerned with the safety and security of citizens; and solving the implicit financing challenge of a large transport infrastructure serving multiple stakeholders.

The views also reflect that the air transport system must pursue ATM network defragmentation; and, because of the increasing scarcity of its resources (e.g., slots, frequencies), should move toward a network congestion management approach. The new ATM concepts will change the role of human operators in the system, requiring more research, effort and innovative solutions during the transition phase to address safety and standardization issues.

An analysis of the views expressed in the survey identified 16 main challenges to growth. These are:

–  –  –

An understanding of these factors is vital for planning the future of air transport.

There is recognition of the significant degree of uncertainty inherent in future traffic growth. The whole system should become more flexible to accommodate a range of possible futures in an efficient way. Airlines were at one time very rigid (as was ATM). Airlines, on the whole, have now managed to make their operational costs much more variable, through leasing, outsourcing of non-core services, more flexible employment conditions, and so on. As a result, airlines are more reactive to variation in passengers and freight demand, and are therefore better positioned to add, reallocate or even cut flights. In the same way, demand for air navigation services in the future could be much more variable in time and space than at present. In response, air navigation services must also become more adaptable and efficient in handling a range of possible futures. This balance should be one of the key design parameters of SESAR.

In conclusion, there is a real need for more research into the scale and nature of air transport evolution to refine projections of demand. The refined forecast models are necessary to plan for, and better adapt, the ATM system of the future.

–  –  –

Future air traffic growth is difficult to predict, but a number of signs are already apparent, which question the idea of continuous growth:

Is air transport reaching maturity in Europe?

 When and how will air transport experience a stabilisation of traffic?

 Which are the main drivers behind the evolution of air traffic?

 What are the risks and how can sustainability of air transport be reinforced?

 From today’s perceptions, which influences will prove critical in the future?

 These are the questions that form the basis of the present survey, which aimed to collect views across the industry about the long-term challenges facing air transport to 2030 - as perceived in 2008. Over 40 leading experts from the air transport sector stakeholder organisations were interviewed. The experts represented the European Commission (EC), European Environment Agency, EUROCONTROL, airlines, airports, the manufacturing industry, research establishments, and air navigation service providers.

The views canvassed were then analysed to produce the present report.

The survey is a contribution to the EUROCONTROL Challenges of Growth 2008 Study (CG08). CG08 (the 3rd edition, building on the CG01 and CG04 studies) provides a vision of the evolution of air traffic over the next 20 years. The study is a foundation for long-term strategic planning in air traffic management (ATM), and - in particular - through SESAR. This foundation has been accepted and used by many stakeholders across the industry, including airports, airlines, as well as the EC.

CG08 includes a long-term forecast of capacity needs based on factors that can be quantified. Other factors exist that might affect growth (positively or negatively), which are too uncertain to be explicitly included in the forecast, but which nevertheless need to be reported when considering risk assessment. Further, there are other possible factors to consider which cannot be quantified today, but which may come to have an impact on air transport by 2030.

The present study aims to identify aspects of the industry that need to be better understood to improve the accuracy of projections for air transport trends in the future.

Methodology The study is a qualitative survey of long-term visions and challenges facing air transport. The study was carried out between November 2007 and April 2008 through interviewing over 40 experts and leaders from the air transport industry. The objective was to structure and report on experts’ views rather than attempt to formulate a fully consistent synthesis. The survey does not purport to represent the views of EUROCONTROL or, for that matter, all of the interviewees.

The interviews were anonymous and conducted in a non-directive manner so as not to influence the expert views. The interviews were recorded and analysed to extract the main points from the responses. These main points were then organised into clusters by themes. (These constitute the sections of the next chapters). In this way, the methodology allowed the origin of the statements to be traced to a very late stage of the work.

The experts The air transport experts and personalities selected for interview were representative of the various stakeholders in European air transport infrastructure, and included: airspace users, service providers, policy makers, manufacturing industry, and regulators, as well as researchers. The interviewees were from the European Commission (EC), the European Environment Agency, IATA, ACI Europe, Air Traffic Alliance, Airbus, CANSO, IFATCA, airlines, air navigation service providers, research establishments, and EUROCONTROL.

The interview protocol An interview protocol was established to identify the scope of the survey: “challenges to air transport long-term sustainable growth: technical, operational, institutional, societal, any others”.

The non-directive framework included:

 knowledge of the challenges: how do you see the long-term challenges facing air transport?

 action regarding these challenges: which approaches could bring the organisation and/or the air transport industry to understand and better manage those challenges?

 help or hindrance from institutional/political contexts: which external factors may have an influence on the application of such approaches?

 help or hindrance from professional/cultural factors: which professional/cultural factors in air transport may have an influence on the application of such approaches?

Challenges of Air Transport 2030: Survey of experts’ views

The visions of long-term challenges have been clustered and organised in three themes:

–  –  –

To support the increase of traffic, building a single In response to the increasing future demand, air transport

European air transport infrastructure (SES & SESAR) supply will need to be supported by a policy vision to:

based on multiple interests will require those involved  provide sufficient capacity to overcome the difficulties of establishing its gover-  optimise the use of air transport’s scarce resources nance, especially in the particular context of States’  incorporate the airspace users’ needs liability. In addition, the successful implementation of  support the evolution of users’ business models.

SESAR will depend on a number of concepts as well As for research, this is an ongoing effort to continuously as standardization and management issues. prepare for the future.

1. Air Transport Demand

–  –  –

An increasing demand for air travel is the first challenge to the future of air transport. The instinct to explore new horizons must be written in the human genes. This is revealed in the nature of the hunter-gatherer or l’homme nomade. Over the ages, the average time spent travelling has not changed. Humankind simply travels farther with technological developments.

Demand for air transport is the driver for traffic growth. Demand is heavily influenced by the economy and demographic evolution. Air traffic demand for passenger and freight, even if this is undesirable from an ecological perspective, is likely to increase. 2007 was a record year in terms of aircraft sales, both for small business jets and large commercial jets. However, some experts believe that worldwide economic and social uncertainties, associated with the inconvenience of flying, imply that predictions for passenger growth are flawed.

The growth of air transport exhibits a strongly positive trend, even though this is inhibited to some extent by various factors, such as environmental concerns, infrastructure, perceived inconvenience, and so on. In the presence of these constraints, however, the evidence indicates that overall demand does not reduce, but instead adapts - and spreads. As constraints influence demand, then so, in turn, demand influences supply. If air traffic growth is constrained (e.g., by capacity limits or regulation and/or by price increases), then demand changes and supply adapts and restructures.

There is a need for more research into the scale and nature of air transport evolution to refine projections of future demand.

The refined forecast models are necessary to better adapt ATM for changes in demand, which is shaped by the evolution of three economic sectors: leisure travel, professional mobility, and freight.

• leisure air travel The development of competition between airlines, which followed air transport deregulation, coupled with more efficient and less costly aircraft technologies, has brought about the democratisation of air transport. Tourism is an important contributor to air transport growth. About 69% of air journeys made by Europeans are leisure trips. Demand for leisure-driven air transport will probably continue to grow.

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