The UK-Ireland FAB has always endeavoured to ensure that customers are at the heart of the FAB and that projects undertaken help deliver real benefits to airspace users.
We caught up with the two airline representatives on the UK/IRE FAB Management Board – Mark Deacon of Monarch and Tobin Miller of American Airlines – to hear their thoughts on progress in the FAB over the last 12 months and what the future holds.
MD = Mark Deacon, Monarch
TM = Tobin Miller, American Airlines
What are your thoughts on how the FAB has progressed in the last 12 months?
MD: The biggest difference for me has been the change in the FAB Governance structure. I fully support this re-structuring because it addressed the fact that the ‘low-hanging fruit’ had been harvested with the airlines benefiting from improvements in airspace, routings and closer operational ties between the UK and Ireland. A different approach was needed to enable the FAB to tackle bigger issues and I believe the changes made to the FAB Management Board will drive the programme forward.
TM: I believe the FAB has achieved remarkable progress in this past year and am personally enthusiastic about the projects that are in the works (dynamic sectorization, enhanced network management, safety, etc.) because the airline industry will realize substantial cost and emission savings. I am very supportive of the recent FAB Management Board changes which takes it away from micro type project management and into a more systemic approach. The FAB is now at a point where true integration is needed and this puts quite a bit of focus on the regulators. From my position constant pressure will need to be made. It would be truly detrimental to what has been accomplished to date if the current FAB momentum is slowed down due to political reasons.
Single Integrated FAB Network Management has now been in operation within the FAB with effect from 1 April 2013. What benefits is the airline community seeing?
MD: Airlines are benefiting from a more efficient network which realises savings in delays, track mileage and CO2 emissions. At my first FMB meeting I was very interested to hear that the enhanced collaboration between NATS and the IAA had resulted in zero regulations in one UK sector compared to 60 the previous year. Not so obvious but of equal importance are some of the components of the integration such as the single RAD document, joint training and the use of similar tools by staff in all FAB centres.
TM: Regulations are down, cross political border efficiency gains are being realized and the transitions from/to the North Atlantic are much smoother. The willingness by both service providers to join together in this efficiency piece is a pure demonstration by the IAA and NATS to operate as a FAB. Our need for schedule predictability in terms of on time performance and our need for system optimization in terms of fuel savings and optimal routings all fall into the lap of an effective Network Manager. My hope and goal for the FAB Network Manager is to be the single point of contact for the airlines to improve their performance.
A Dynamic Sectorisation Operational Trial has just been launched by the FAB. What does this mean for airlines and how will they benefit?
MD: While the full concept is some years away the airlines should benefit from some more direct routings much sooner. The Operational Trial will be a key enabler in the development of dynamically shared airspace which is probably the best way I can understand and explain what a FAB actually means. Dynamic Sectorisation in high level sectors potentially offers increased free route opportunities which will further blur the edges between Oceanic and Domestic airspace and between ANSPs. My hope is that the DSOT will act as the foundation stone for many of the benefits the airlines have long waited for from the FAB process.
TM: This is one of the most exciting recent developments within the FAB from an airline perspective. We hope to see many benefits from this trial and eventual implementation primarily from airspace optimization, service resilience and cost savings.
What do you see the role of the FAB being in meeting the price reduction targets we are likely to see set for RP2?
MD: I think that in some respects our FAB has put itself at a disadvantage in that it has already implemented many projects that have produced significant cost efficiencies over the past five years unlike other FABs which have yet to engage with their airline customers let alone deliver any improvements.
TM: It is encouraging to see the FAB take the stance that the PRB proposals are a minimum and not a maximum goal. This speaks volumes about the people involved in the FAB and how they continue to strive to be a leader and not a follower.
What are the main things you’d like to see the FAB focus on in the next 12 months?
MD: Operationally the Queue Management programme and the High Level Sectors project will be of key importance. At a more strategic level the work being done on RP2 will be a priority– not least because the final output will be a joint UK-Ireland FAB Plan. Changes to the FAB Governance structure will ensure the FAB is better able to manage a more performance-driven regime.
TM: Efficiency gains! The world economy is changing faster than anyone can keep track of and if the FAB cannot provide more value for money in their service provision then it will impact all sectors of this industry. Long haul carriers focus on minimum cost routings as opposed to minimum fuel routings so it makes no sense to promote environmental concerns in one breath and not provide efficiency gains in another. Yet I believe the FAB realizes this and it is the driving force in many of the decisions being made.
I would like to close by acknowledging the FAB members for their realization of the importance of industry inclusion and input into their process. This type of collaboration is a proven recipe for success and one that simply must continue. It is simply an honor to be associated with the UK/IFAB and I firmly believe that the future for this FAB is one of world leadershi