Professionalism, investment and technology. Our forty years of civil air traffic control
On 24 March 1981, the then President of the Republic Sandro Pertini signed Decree no. 145, which granted the Autonomous Company providing Flight Assistance for General Air Traffic (AAAVTAG) legal personality and administrative and financial autonomy and placed it under the oversight of the then Ministry of Transport.
This step marked the definitive separation of the company from the Italian Air Force, paving the way for the creation of an entity engaged in the management of civil air traffic in Italy and thus opening up the profession of air traffic controller to women as well.
From its incarnation as the National Agency for Flight Assistance, ENAV was transformed into a company limited by shares in 2001 as part of the process of liberalising and privatising the air transport market. In 2006, it acquired 100% of Vitrociset Sistemi, which was then renamed Techno Sky. Thanks to this operation, ENAV internalised the maintenance and management of flight assistance systems.
In the late 1980s and through the early 1990s, air traffic control was conducted using a so-called procedural system. This was used in the absence of systems enabling the visualisation of aircraft in flight. Accordingly, all the air traffic management activities of the controllers were based on position reports radioed in by pilots, thus ensuring separation from other aircraft.
The 2000s marked a turning point, and we moved from air traffic control to air traffic management. ENAV was one of the first service providers to revolutionise its systems, thus creating the basis for making airspace a true strategic infrastructure for the country.
In 2004, Europe decided to initiate the Single European Sky reform to harmonise control systems between the various countries to reduce delays and environmental impact. ENAV immediately acquired this great objective: to guarantee flight safety and sustainability. Thus, in 2009, the Company launched the Flight Efficiency Plan, a project to redesign routes for more efficient flights.
In 2014, ENAV bet on satellites and acquired a stake in Aireon, a US company that has created what is so far the only global satellite surveillance system for air traffic control in the world.
Over time, the Company has become increasingly dynamic, and on 26 July 2016 ENAV was listed on the Milan Stock Exchange, with 46.7% of its capital being placed on the market. The Ministry for the Economy and Finance holds 53.3% of the company shares. ENAV is the only listed service provider in the world. The demand for shares was eight times greater than supply.
At the end of 2016, ENAV was the first of the major air navigation service providers in Europe to implement Free Route operations, an innovative procedure that allows aircraft to cross Italian skies on direct routes, producing significant fuel savings and a consequent decline in atmospheric CO2 emissions. Thanks to Free Route, some 450 million kilograms fewer kilograms of CO2 have been released into the environment so far.
Control of the territory, freight transport, infrastructure monitoring: these are just some of the possible applications for drones. ENAV is facing this new frontier with D-Flight, a company founded in 2018 in partnership with Leonardo and Telespazio as Italian industry’s response to the challenge launched by the European Union to create a specific framework for operating Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), or "drones". D-Flight, in which ENAV holds a 60% stake, is committed to the implementation of the U-space platform, which will enable the safe integration of drones into the airspace, expanding the field of use of these extraordinary tools.
ENAV has acquired a global dimension and has been offering consulting services in foreign markets since 2010. In 2019, thanks to the acquisition of IDS AirNav, a global leader in aeronautical information management systems, the ENAV Group consolidated its commercial dimension, becoming an extremely competitive player in the unregulated sector of air traffic management services and technologies, with over 100 customers around the world.
Technological innovation, digitalisation of systems and interoperability of platforms are at the heart of the Company's industrial strategy for the sustainable evolution of airspace infrastructure, with four objectives: to reduce flight delays, increase capacity to accommodate traffic, reduce environmental impact and ensure the highest levels of safety.