In Switzerland, aviation legislation falls within the competence of the Confederation. But the government does not operate directly any airlines or civil aerodromes: it creates the right conditions to provide the country with coverage of its needs in this area, allocates
concessions and issues authorizations. Politics thus determines what private actors
or communities can or must do and within what limits the air activity can develop.
In a densely populated country with a high standard of living, building and operating airports require a delicate trade-off between different, sometimes antagonistic, interests. This
important issue is essential from the point of view of regional planning. In order to ensure that these different interests are clearly defined and harmonized, the Confederation adopted, for the first time on 18 October 2000, an aeronautical infrastructure sector plan (PSIA).
The PSIA is the planning and coordination instrument of the Confederation for Civil Aviation. It sets in a binding way for the authorities the objectives and requirements relating to the infrastructure of the Swiss Civil Aviation. Its general part sets the global objectives as well as the very varied network of infrastructures, ranging from international airports to air navigation beacons, including airfields and heliports. The location and functions of several dozens of infrastructures are thus stopped. Recently, a revision of this general part was put in public consultation, according to a usual process of participative transparency. Made to last, the PSIA is not frozen so far.
In its second part, the PSIA contains, for each installation, a specific sheet fixing the ground surface, the general framework and the potential of the exploitation, the impact of noise pollution and the obstacles limitation surfaces. Therefore, each of these specific forms is developed through a methodically structured participatory process, including adaptations that circumstances may require.. That is why in the second part too, the evolution of the PSIA remains possible.
One of the characteristics of the PSIA is that, once adopted by the Federal Council (the central government), its content becomes binding to all the authorities, and therefore to the cantons and the communes as well. This certainly guarantees to the listed installations the right to exist, without however making the Government a guarantor of the exploitation thus made possible. As mentioned at the beginning of this contribution: the Confederation does not operate any civil aeronautical installation. That is to say how important it is that the aviation community in general and the operators in particular actively participate to the elaboration of the PSIA concerning the aerodromes on which they operate.
The PSIA sheet for Sion airport has just been issued: all those who, in one form or another, use this airport are invited to pay a special and active attention to this process !