UAV traffic in Europe is expected to grow to just over 16 million flights in regulation and growth, and close to 20 million in global growth, an industry report has forecast.
The report from Eurcontrol, entitled ‘European Aviation in 2040 – Challenges of Growth’, aims to provide decision-makers with the best-achievable set of information to support long-term planning decisions for aviation in Europe.
Eurocontrol is an intergovernmental organisation with 41 Member and 2 Comprehensive Agreement States. It is committed to building, together with our partners, a Single European Sky that will deliver the air traffic management (ATM) performance required for the twenty-first century and beyond.
Eurocontrol’s report sets out with a particular focus on the capacity of the air transport network. Previous studies were completed in 2001, 2004, 2008 and 2013. The current edition looks at the impact of climate change and the expected rise in unmanned aircraft systems.
A spokesperson for Eurocontrol commented: “Traffic variability over the last ten years shows that we have to consider a range of possible futures in order to manage risk: no one single forecast could hope to include all the likely risks.”
In a bid to provide the most accurate forecast, the intergovernmental organisation has worked with stakeholders to develop four scenarios.
Within controlled airspace, 2017 saw approximately six flights per day. By 2040, Eurocontrol expects the main effect to replace existing operations with ‘optionally piloted’ ones. On top of this transformation, it predicts see a growth of about 100 flights per day.
By 2040, traffic in Europe is expected to grow to just over 16 million flights in the most-likely scenario regulation and growth, or close to 20 million in global growth. This corresponds to a total growth of 53% (regulation and growth) and 84% (global growth).
This is rather slower growth than before 2008. Over the 20 years before the economic crisis, the number of IFR movements in Europe doubled from 5,000,000 IFR movements in 1988 to 10,000,000 in 2008. Overall, the future deceleration in growth is explained by slower rates of economic growth, increasing fuel prices and higher level of congestion at airports.
Over 1,900 highly qualified professionals spread over four European countries work at Eurocontrol, deploying their expertise to address ATM challenges.