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Interview with... Eamonn Brennan - CEO Irish Aviation Authority

IAA is at the crossroads between Europe and the Atlantic area. What operational and technical challenges are you facing?
We’re the North Atlantic ‘Gateway’ and we handle 90 percent of all traffic between Europe and North America. On a busy summer’s day, we’ll manage over 2,200 flights through Irish airspace, in addition to 1,000 airport movements. We implemented Free Route Airspace many years ago and our ATM system is very flexible as it can dynamically open and close sectors. We can cater for increased capacity but this will be really enhanced through our Aireon partnership with Enav, which will provide real time surveillance on the North Atlantic. The change will cater for reduced horizontal and lateral separation, Free Route oceanic airspace, user defined tracks – all of which have been common in Europe for years but not on the ocean. It’s a huge benefit to the airlines. The IAA will also host Aireon’s global ALERT emergency system, which will provide Search and Rescue agencies with the last know track of any ADS-B equipped aircraft. That will help avoid scenarios like MH370.
SESAR, FABs, performance, how is IAA addressing the changes introduced with the Single European Sky and what is the role of technology in this change?
Innovation is a key driver for us, coupled with value for money and a high performance output. The IAA has a strong tradition of being innovative to deliver cost efficiency, improved safety and higher productivity levels. RP2 has been a challenge but we have coped well. We’re very lucky in the IAA because we are operating one of Europe’s most advanced ATM system – COOPANS – along with our partners in Austria, Croatia, Denmark and Sweden. It’s the only system in Europe that is completely harmonised and deployed in 5 Member States, across 7 Area Control Centres. The beauty of COOPANS is it means that we have been able to share our development costs and technical expertise and we can commission each system upgrade without any capacity restriction or impact on customers. The advanced tools of COOPANS has enabled us to be more productive and handle increased traffic demand without any difficulty.  It’s a great way to drive down ATM costs, be innovative and be efficient. It’s exactly what SES is all about in my view and it will help us cope with further pressure under RP3.
The role of ANSPs is changing, how can cooperation among ANSPs help in achieving your objectives?
I’ve always supported the partnership approach and COOPANS fits that bill perfectly as a truly successful industrial partnership. We are actively looking into the migration of our system to the next generation of FDP Thales products, which you are commissioning in Italy (CoFlight) over the next few years. We have a very strong relationship with our partners in NATS through the UK-Ireland FAB and of course, the IAA is also a very close partner with Enav in Aireon. We are also a partner in Entry Point North (EPN) with Denmark, Sweden and Norway – EPN is a leading air traffic controller training academy. We have a joint venture with our colleagues in Iceland, ISAVIA, to provide joint communications services on the North Atlantic. I firmly believe that a smaller ANSP needs to have strong business cooperation with like-minded ANSPs.
What are IAA’s key priorities for the future, at national and international level?
Our key priority for the future will be as it is today, i.e. to provide a safe, efficient and cost-effective service to our customers. Investments in technology and our continuing high performance and efficiency programme will ensure that we can maintain our position as a leading service provider.
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Eamonn Brennan