Europe 2020: Planning To Accommodate Crowded Skies

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2020 is not that far off, only 14 years away, and air traffic above Europe is expected to double by then. Eurocontrol, the agency that manages Europe's airspace, is working on plans to cope. Those plans include not only upgrades to hardware and software, but a rethinking of the system's administrative structure. A Single-Sky vision mandates that airspace sectors will be determined by traffic flows rather than international borders. The change would create additional capacity and improve efficiency, Eurocontrol says. The Europeans also are experimenting with ADS-B technology. By 2020, the system should be able to operate with fewer ATC centers, according to Defense Daily. Machines would "talk" to each other, so pilots and controllers would need to communicate only if deviating from the plan. Most flights would proceed from start to finish without a need for that kind of handling. Europe now has close to 8.5 million flights per year and up to 28,000 flights on the busiest days, according to Eurocontrol.