CANSO (the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation) has outlined the steps that States and air navigation service providers (ANSPs) can take to improve the safety and efficiency of air traffic management (ATM) in the Latin America and Caribbean region: invest in the latest technologies to modernize ATM; allow ANSPs to act as normal businesses; support this with performance-based regulatory frameworks; build greater cooperation across the region; and ensure a clear focus on human performance.
Speaking at the CANSO Latin America and Caribbean Conference 2018 in Buenos Aires, CANSO Director General, Jeff Poole, said: “New technologies give air navigation service providers a huge opportunity to improve the efficiency and safety of airspace as well as meeting the challenges of growing demand, with stronger and more compelling business cases than current systems, particularly when we take account of the economic and social benefits of aviation. So, States should encourage investments in new ATM infrastructure to ensure that ANSPs are able to embrace and exploit these new technologies.”
There are a number of examples of latest technologies that are transforming ATM performance. Big data will enable more efficient operations based on actual performance and greater cooperation across the aviation industry. Space-based ADS-B will enable surveillance in oceanic and remote areas not currently covered and will allow us safely to reduce separation distances thus improving capacity. Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) via satellites will enable communications in remote and oceanic airspace. Digitization of air traffic control towers is enabling remote control of air navigation services (ANS) at aerodromes; improving connectivity through the ability to cost-effectively manage traffic at remote and lesser used airports. System wide information management (SWIM) will enable the provision of the right information at the right time, anywhere to the user or system that needs it. Automation in ATM will enable planes to fly closer together and ATM to build capacity. Artificial Intelligence (AI) will progressively replace today’s unique human input in dynamic decision making, e.g. in optimizing airport collaborative decision-making (A-CDM).
Jeff Poole continued: “In order to deliver the required capacity and performance, ANSPs need to be able to act like normal businesses, yet one third of States in the region have still not separated service provision from the State regulatory functions. I urge these States to follow the good examples of their peers so that their ANSPs can operate as normal performance-driven businesses, attracting investment for new technologies, based on solid business cases. States can further help by ensuring that regulation is performance-based in order to facilitate and keep up with the speed of change.”
However, just improving ATM within national boundaries will not unleash the full performance improvements that are available. In the Latin America and Caribbean region, we are seeing a steady growth in cooperation between ANSPs, of which CADENA – the CANSO Air Traffic Flow Management Data Exchange Network for the Americas – is a leading example. But much more can be achieved through even stronger regional cooperation on issues such as airspace planning, air traffic flow management and common processes.
In addition, Jeff Poole highlighted that the implementation of new technologies, automation and artificial intelligence means that a high level of performance from humans in the system has never been so important. Action on this is essential, so CANSO is developing a Standard of Excellence in Human Performance Management, to be launched in 2019, to help ANSPs to manage change and improve human performance by utilizing best practices.
Jeff Poole concluded: “These are exciting times in ATM in the Latin America and Caribbean region, which has a golden opportunity to modernize its ATM infrastructure to meet the challenges of air traffic growth and provide the connectivity that drives very significant economic and social benefits. The essential steps are to invest in and exploit the incredible technologies now available; allow ANSPs to act as normal businesses; adopt a pragmatic, performance-based regulatory framework; ensure even greater cooperation in ATM across the region; and ensure a clear focus on human performance. Working together, we can continue to build momentum in ATM that will benefit everyone in the region.”