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ECAC FORUM: Directors General consider solutions to the challenges of aviation growth

Paris, 4 December — Over 60 high-level delegates from 29 ECAC Member States, EASA, EUROCONTROL, the European Commission and ICAO assembled with special guest speakers for the 11th annual ECAC Forum of Directors General.
 
The ever-increasing demand to fly has led to a boost in traffic and puts the responsibility on all civil aviation stakeholders to expand in a sustainable manner to avoid losing the benefits of growth. This year's Forum set out to explore solutions that have been, or could be, put in place to tackle the challenges created by the expected growth in the aviation sector.
 
Spread across three sessions, the discussions were expertly led by moderators Silvia Gehrer, Director General International (Austria), Halla Sigurdardottir, Deputy Director General  (Iceland) and Flor Diaz Pulido, Head of Unit for Aviation Policy at the European Commission's DG MOVE.
 
Joe Sultana (EUROCONTROL) set the scene in the first session presenting the aviation growth forecasts to 2040 and the main constraints on infrastructure and safety, while Stephen Perkins (International Transport Forum) offered a global overview of civil aviation growth.
 
The second session explored experiences at the national and local levels from the perspective of Member States, industry and NGOs, and how these stakeholders are seeking to find a balance between growth and the socio-economic, safety and environmental needs. Michael Gill (ATAG) gave the air transport industry's perspective, highlighting the importance of a collaborative approach involving all stakeholders, while Olivier Jankovec (ACI EUROPE) spoke about coping with the challenges of airport capacity growth. Tim Johnson (Aviation Environment Federation) presented the challenges of balancing environmental priorities with growth, drawing attention in particular to the effects of noise on health.
 
Luis Ribeiro (DGCA Portugal) gave his State's perspective on guaranteeing safety in times of high traffic growth, while Michal Witkowski (CAA Poland) focused on the growth and infrastructure constraints at Polish airports. Dan Micklethwaite (DGCA United Kingdom) presented the case of the planned Heathrow Airport expansion and the proposed environmental and communities package to support local communities and mitigate the environmental impact of growth on them. He also highlighted the importance of sharing the benefits of growth with local communities.
 
In the third and final session, Jonathan Wober (CAPA - Centre for Aviation) and Stephen Perkins proposed potential solutions to address the environmental, infrastructure, capacity, and technological challenges raised during the debates and thus sustainably accommodate the forecast growth in the sector.
 
Throughout the day, the Forum provoked lively debate and offered much food for thought. Key conclusions included the need for the sector to communicate better and be more self-confident in presenting the positive and beneficial aspects of aviation growth, that sustainability should be at the centre of all decision-making and connected to all aspects of aviation matters, and that it is critical for regulators and stakeholders to cooperate closely to ensure the benefits of growth are widely shared.