Putting Europe on course for seamless skies

Claudio Clori, Director of Administration de la Navigation Aérienne (ANA) Luxembourg, and Chairman, FABEC, says functional airspace blocks have laid a foundation for cross-border cooperation.

The pandemic had a huge impact on aviation globally but arguably central Europe – among the busiest and most complex airspaces in the world – felt its effects more than most.

Despite this, the six State members of FABEC (Functional Airspace Block Europe Central) – Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland – had to keep operations going. Cargo carriers, humanitarian aid and repatriation flights still needed to cross the continent. Luxembourg-based Cargolux experienced unusually high demand, for example.

“At the same time, we had to take precautions to protect our staff, including our air traffic controllers, and maintain their motivation and proficiency,” says Claudio Clori, Director of Administration de la Navigation Aérienne (ANA) Luxembourg, and Chairman, FABEC. “It was a huge challenge, especially with so little revenue generated and so much volatility in planning. It was impossible to know in advance what would happen in a month or two.”

The crisis did allow FABEC some breathing space to prepare for the post-pandemic world, however. FABEC air navigation service providers (ANSPs) continued hiring and training staff. It proved being a wise decision as FABEC ANSPs were resilient enough to make a speedy recovery in air traffic. Infrastructure projects – especially those concerning a digital transformation – were also maintained, their efficiency gains deemed more important than ever.

For Claudio Clori, this strategy and the work FABEC has done in the past decade make the functional airspace block (FAB) a showcase for what can be achieved.

“When you look at the cooperation we have at the operational, technical and strategic levels and the collaboration within FABEC between civil and military operations, it is clear that we wouldn’t be where we are today without FABEC,” he says. “We have also established better partnerships with airspace users and all stakeholders are working towards the same goals.”

He accepts that the FAB framework isn’t perfect and there have been plenty of challenges to overcome. But he stresses that the good has far outweighed the bad and there are now open and, strong relationships.

“Every strategy has several layers,” he explains. “A FAB facilitates the processes, communication flows, and operational and technical cooperation that comprises those layers. Sharing experiences enriches the community and creates new ideas and innovation. We will continue this exchange at all levels and between FABs as well.”

FABEC is in the process of reviewing its strategy with a view to improve efficiency, environmental performance and stakeholder value.

“We have a decade in front of us where we can make a real difference,” the FABEC Chairman concludes. “The hard work has been done and the foundations have been laid. Now we can start to build. There is still a lot of work ahead, but the benefits of everything we have done so far will become clear in the years ahead.”

Christian Schmidt, CEO GroupEAD said: “GroupEAD Europe has been, and still is, responsible for running EAD operations, ensuring the quality of data and providing training to users of such an efficient, high quality compliant and future orientated system. The key role that GroupEAD Europe has played in this successful story, acting as a EAD Service Provider and supporter for all the ANSP’s in the frame of migration to the EAD, has made the company become a reference contact in the world of Aeronautical Information Management and a key player to define, face and achieve future challenges that AIM and SWIM will bring to the aviation industry. Over the past years our trusted partnership with EUROCONROL grew stronger and we are happy and honoured to provide the EAD Service on behalf of EUROCONTROL. These successful 20 years could not have been achieved without our strong and reliable partner EUROCONTROL. But a company’s success story is always also only possible with dedicated staff, whom I want to thank for their strong efforts and our clients, who supported us over the past 20 years. We are looking forward to continue our successful collaboration in support of EUROCONTROL on its path to transformation and digitalization of Aeronautical Information Management. It is our aim to operate upon the highest qualitative standards and to enable customers an improved and harmonized data use and exchange to achieve their operational needs and efficiency objectives.”

Iacopo Prissinotti, EUROCONTROL Director Network Management said: “I sincerely congratulate GroupEAD on their 20-year anniversary of providing the EAD Operations Service, being one of the core components of EAD and being a key industrial partner behind the success of the EUROCONTROL EAD serving our States and clients around the world with an EASA certified service that will deliver even more digital and higher quality aeronautical information. The support of GroupEAD in the transition from the existing EAD towards the new eEAD as EUROCONTROL sets out on its Network Transformation 2030 with the modernisation programme iNM is highly appreciated and demonstrates once again the professional and trustworthy partner GroupEAD was for the last 20 years, and still is.”

About GroupEAD

GroupEAD, Aeronautical Information Management (AIM) and navigation service provider, has been successfully operating the European AIS Database (EAD) on behalf of EUROCONTROL since 2003, ensuring 24/7 access to real-time data from ECAC area, NOTAM (Notice to Airmen) and Pre-flight Information Bulletins (PIB).

Founded in 2001 as a joint venture by Deutsche Flugsicherung (DFS), ENAIRE and Frequentis AG, GroupEAD has been providing AIS services all over the world by establishing and maintaining a centralized quality-assured AIS database.

GroupEAD is a unique AIM and navigation service provider that has been operating the EAD on behalf of Eurocontrol since 2003. As European Market Leader in AIM services with more than 20 years of experience and operating the EAD, a Single European Sky certified service, GroupEAD is fully committed to AIM and offer extensive knowledge in AIM services and consulting, data processing and management and training services for the clients in the area ANSPs, Airports and Airlines.


EUROCONTROL is a pan-European, civil-military organisation dedicated to supporting European aviation. As Europe’s Network Manager, we play a central coordination role, using our technical expertise to support Member States and a wide range of stakeholders (air navigation service providers, civil and military airspace users, airports and aircraft/equipment manufacturers). We strive to make European aviation safe, efficient, scalable, cost-effective and environmentally sustainable, partnering with the European Union to make the Single European Sky a reality.