The European Defence Agency launched, using its website, a diplomatic clearances portal for military transport aircraft. The portal implements the technical arrangement signed by thirteen Member States (Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Romania, Slovakia, Sweden and Norway) for common provisions and harmonised procedures for overflights and landings. The arrangement enables Member States to operate without the need to submit diplomatic clearances requests for each flight, including support to on-going operations and transportation of IATA/ICAO compliant dangerous goods. This simplified mechanism is a significant step forward to more flexible and effective military airlift operations in Europe. The portal allows Member States to easily exchange the necessary information.
Presented to defence ministers in November 2012, the agreement improves the freedom of movement of EU military registered transport aircraft transiting national boundaries within the EU. The existing disparate requirements to obtain diplomatic clearances to land or overfly an EU member state cause delays and hampers swift airlift operations. This legacy mechanism needed updating to 21st century’s requirements, especially with a view to the future implementation of the Single European Sky (SES) in the coming years, where a route driven system will evolve into a trajectory driven system.
“The new diplomatic clearances agreement radically changes the way Member States deal with the issue. It allows substantial human and financial resource savings whilst making military transport operations more swift and efficient”, says Peter Round, Capabilities Director of the European Defence Agency.
The technical arrangement was implemented on 1 June and is still open for signature for all other EU member states and Schengen area signatories. Six additional Member States (Estonia, Finland, France, Latvia, Luxembourg and Spain) indicated their willingness to sign the technical arrangement soon.
Diplomatic clearances portal
The new mechanism provides annual diplomatic clearance numbers for up to 95% of the daily military transport missions executed above the territories of the signing countries. It also harmonises the requirements for requests and notifications of diplomatic clearances. Finally, a common diplomatic clearance form has been created.
The diplomatic clearances portal on EDA’s website (http://eda.europa.eu/DICPortal) is the backbone of the new arrangement. Its main purpose is to provide transparency on national policies and procedures for granting diplomatic clearances for transport aircraft. The portal will also list annual clearance numbers to be used as well as restrictions nations might have regarding certain areas or routings.
Background and way forward
The European Air Transport Fleet partnership signed by 20 Member States in 2011 under the auspices of the European Defence Agency is looking at improving the availability of military airlift in the EU and developing concrete solutions to increase its efficiency and effectiveness.
The EDA ad hoc working group for Diplomatic Clearances that developed this technical arrangement will continue to work on different diplomatic clearance issues, including harmonisation of clearances for EU military transport aircraft outside the EU and clearances for air-to-air refuelling (AAR) operations in the European sky.