On 21 October 2004 in Bucharest the Directors General of ROMATSA and BULATSA, in the presence of representatives of ICAO, EUROCONTROL and the European Commission, put their signatures to an Initiative for Creating the Prerequisites for the Establishment of a Functional Airspace Block in the Airspace of Romania and Bulgaria (the BUL-ROM FAB Initiative), thus laying the foundation for the DANUBE FAB Project.
A Joint Statement expressing the political endorsement to the Initiative by the two States was signed on 25 February 2005 in Sofia by the Deputy Minister of Transport and Communications of the Republic of Bulgaria and the Secretary of State at the Ministry of Transport, Construction and Tourism of Romania, in the presence of EUROCONTROL’s Director General.
On 21 September 2006 the Minister of Transport of the Republic of Bulgaria and the Minister of Transport, Construction and Tourism of Romania signed a Statement on a common vision for cooperation in the context of preparation for applying the Single European Sky acquis, including the establishment of a FAB.
On 26 February 2010, within the framework of the official visit to the Republic of Bulgaria of the Romanian Government Delegation led by Prime Minister Mr. Emil Boc, the Minister of Transport, Information Technology and Communications of the Republic of Bulgaria and the Minister of Transport and Infrastructure of Romania signed a Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in Air Navigation Services provision matters and for the establishment of a Functional Airspace Block, comprising the national airspace of the Republic of Bulgaria, the national airspace of Romania and the airspace included in the scope of the international legal obligations of the Republic of Bulgaria and Romania (DANUBE FAB).
The Memorandum establishes the common framework of cooperation between the two States, including their national aviation authorities (Civil Aviation Administrations) and air navigation services providers.
On 10 August 2010, the Directors General of Air Navigation Services Providers of the Republic of Bulgaria and Romania, respectively BULATSA and ROMATSA, signed the Memorandum of Understanding between BULATSA and ROMATSA on cooperation in air navigation services provision matters and for the establishment of a functional airspace block, comprising the national airspace of Romania, the national airspace of the Republic of Bulgaria and the airspace included in the scope of the international legal obligations of Romania and the Republic of Bulgaria.
On 19 October 2010, the Directors General of the Romanian Civil Aviation Authority, Directorate General of Infrastructure and Air Transport within the Ministry of Transport of Romania and the Director General of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation Administration of the Republic of Bulgaria signed the Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in air traffic management & air navigation services matters and on preparation for establishment and implementation of functional airspace block – DANUBE FAB.
Stages in the development of the DANUBE FAB Project
Phase 1 – Feasibility Study Phase (consisting of two stages), completed
Phase 2 – Preliminary Design Phase (2009 - 2010)
Phase 3 – Detailed Design and Pre-Implementation Phase (2011 - 2012)
Phase 4 – Implementation Phase (2012+)
Mission and vision
The long-lasting good relations in the cooperation between the two States serve as a basis for the Project, as does the availability of a long common state border, presupposing a considerable portion of air traffic flow in the common airspace.
According to statistical data about 9% of the overall air traffic in the European Union overflies Bulgaria and Romania and there is a stable upward trend. The Project is the result of the similar development rates of aviation activities in Bulgaria and Romania, the EU membership of the two States, and the similar features of the technical systems used for the provision of air navigation services by BULATSA and ROMATSA.
The Project is based on the concept of service provision from virtually connected ATC Centres in Sofia and Bucharest (the so called “distributed architecture”), while retaining the existing air navigation services providers (BULATSA and ROMATSA). This is also the concept of “partial integration”, which implies harmonising the main activity in the joint performance of certain functions and preserving jobs. At the same time the ATC Centres in Sofia and Bucharest will provide each other with mutual back-up functions.
Basic objectives of the Project:
Harmonisation of rules and procedures for air navigation services in the airspace of Bulgaria and Romania.
Establishment of joint airspace organisation regardless of national borders, based on the interoperability of automated air traffic management systems, communications, navigation and surveillance.
Implementation of a unified concept of civil-military coordination for the flexible use of airspace, including the establishment of cross-border areas to be used by the Military Air Forces of both States.
DANUBE FAB governance
Following the signature of the Memorandum of Understanding concluded last year between the Ministers of Transport of Romania and the Republic of Bulgaria, the governance of the DANUBE FAB Project has been establlished as follows:
DANUBE FAB Steering Committee (DANUBE FAB SC), in charge of the management of the establishment of the DANUBE FAB;
DANUBE FAB National Supervisory Authorities Coordination Committee (DANUBE FAB NSACC), in charge of the preparation of the legal and institutional framework necessary for the establishment of the DANUBE FAB in relation to the supervision processes, mainly certification and safety oversight of the operations within the DANUBE FAB;
DANUBE FAB Project Management Office (PMO), established by BULATSA and ROMATSA, with clear working targets and time frame;
(six) Working Groups established for the development of the Project: (Operational and Civil/Military Coordination WG, Technical WG, Safety, Quality, Security & Environment WG, Financial, Economic & Budgeting WG, Legal, Regulatory & Procurement WG and Human Resources WG).
The figure below illustrates the overall structure of the DANUBE FAB Project:
The DANUBE FAB Project has been granted financial aid (Phase 1/Stage 2, Phase 2 and 3) with funds by the European Commission (EC) under the trans-European transport networks (TEN-T) programme. The decision of the EC, published in September 2009, grants EUR 2,515,784 in total, 50% to Bulgaria and 50% to Romania respectively.
Benefits deriving from the establishment of the DANUBE FAB
The main benefits of the Project will be the enhanced overall efficiency and safety of flights and the reduced flying time, achieved through more efficient trajectories and the improved capacity of the airspace of both States. One of the aims is to decrease the cost of airlines and to reduce gas emissions, which in turn will result in the reduction of the environmental impacts of aviation, with subsequent financial effects related to emission trading schemes. Being EU Member States, the Republic of Bulgaria and Romania will be participants enjoying full rights and responsibilities in the processes of harmonization of the European aviation system.
The Project is open to accession by any third country and is being implemented in accordance with EU legislation.
All decisions and development efforts in the framework of the Project, as well as the Project’s management are based on the principle of parity and consensus between the two States.
The final date for the establishment of FABs, binding for all the EU Member States, is 4 December 2012.