Cesare Bernabei was born in 1950 in Modena, Italy. In 1976 he received his doctorate in Electrical Engineering, from La Sapienza University in Rome, with an experimental thesis on the propagation in multi-mode optical fibres.
After military service, he started his career as a researcher in solid state circuitry at the David Sarnoff Research Centre in Princeton, New Jersey. Upon returning to Italy he worked as a radar system engineer at Contraves Italiana and at Alcatel. Since 1993 he has worked at the European Commission's Air Traffic Management and Airports Unit in the Aviation Directorate of the Directorate General for Energy and Transport.
After starting out working for the research department with responsibility for airport research activities, he is now involved in airport policy and strategy.
Bernabei represents the Commission at the ICAO EANPG and is a member of several international committees on airport-related activities. From 1992–97 he served as the first chairman of Working Group 41 of EUROCAE on the development of A-SMGCS Systems on airports.