SESAR deployment at airports: five practical tips for getting European funding

Written by: Ference Van Ham
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This year'€™s call for EU funding for transport projects has now opened with over €500M of funding set aside for deployment of the SESAR programme - plus a further €300M available to 'cohesion countries'€™.

For Air Navigation Service Providers across Europe, dealing with the Single European Sky and the SESAR programme is part of daily life. For the airports, this is not always the case. However SESAR deployment is very relevant to them, as is the available funding: nearly € 63M was awarded last year to a cluster of projects on airport integration and throughput, with further funding made available to smaller initiatives. Airport-related projects that received funding include the introduction of A-CDM, the implementation of RNP approaches, and updates to surveillance infrastructure.

The specific focus this year remains the deployment of the Pilot Common Project (PCP). Some 80% of the funding will be made available to the congested airports and airspace covered by (and listed in) the PCP Regulation, with 20% (or just over €100M) still available for 'other'€™ projects.

Inevitably, going through the application process takes some effort. The European Commission (EC) is keen to support SESAR deployment, but understandably wants some confidence that their money is being spent efficiently. So the pressure is on interested parties including the airport to make their case as clear and as strong as they can. Having helped a number of clients with their successful applications last year, and with the 16th February deadline fast approaching, here are our five practical tips for giving your application the best chance of success.

  • 1. Make sure you get the '€˜route to funding'€™ right -€“ General call and cohesion call, common projects and other projects, where do you fit in? It takes some time to figure it out, but it is important to get it right. Above all, every route to funding should first pass your Member State point of contact; without their support you'€™ll get nowhere...
  • 2. Be clear on where you are going -€“ The focus is on SESAR deployment, but don'€™t expect the evaluation panel to figure out for you how your proposal fits in. It is up to you to clearly indicate what you propose to do with the funding, and how this contributes to overall SESAR deployment.
  • 3. Show you know how to get there... -€“ The EC expects a certain level of maturity of the proposed Action, so every proposal should come with a clear plan. This plan should include a definition of tasks, an overview of timelines and identified milestones that show you know what you are doing.
  • 4. ...and why you want to go there in the first place -€“ Of course, the question is not only what you want to do but also why you want to do it. Which benefits are you expecting to deliver though the proposed Action? A project without benefits will not have many supporters at European level. And since this is EU funding, it'€™s not just about local capacity or safety, but also about contributing to the wider network.
  • 5. Don't forget the potholes! - Our final tip on giving the EC the confidence they are looking for is to show awareness of the risks associated with your proposed action. Whether it is available resources or stakeholder engagement, the EC recognises that risks can be mitigated€“ but only if you show that you can identify them in the first place.

With just a few weeks to go until the application deadline, the required effort may be significant, but the potential reward makes it worthwhile. If you need some expert help, do get in touch. We wish you the best of luck!

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