CANSO has called for the air traffic management (ATM) industry to take advantage of the opportunities offered by new technologies to improve aviation safety.

New technology is changing the face of aviation and ATM with an increasingly automated environment; remote and digitised air traffic control towers; and space-based surveillance among many others. The task of ATM is not only to ensure these new technologies are introduced safely but to take advantage of technology to improve safety performance.

Speaking at the CANSO Global ATM Safety Conference 2017 in Sydney, CANSO director-general Jeff Poole said: “Safety is our number one priority and we are rightly proud of the safety record in air traffic management. However, we must ensure that we do not become over-averse to risk and develop a mindset that only sees potential safety problems with every new technological advance.

“Conversely, we need to be proactively seeking out any and all new advances that have the potential to improve safety as well as efficiency.”

New technology is opening up new opportunities to transform ATM performance globally and improve safety. For example, automation can enable planes to safely reduce separation minima and take responsibility for such core controller functions as conformance monitoring, ensuring aircraft are doing what they were authorised to do. In the future automation will provide real-time and predictive decision-making, robust separation assurance and monitoring capability; all of which will improve safety.

Space-based automatic dependent surveillance, broadcast (ADS-B) will enable surveillance in oceanic and remote areas not currently covered, which will result in a step change for aviation safety. Remote and digital towers improve safety through improved observation via enhanced imaging and infrared for low-visibility; and simplification by having all relevant information, such as weather, flight information, and other key data displayed directly on the screen. This reduces controller workload and enhances safety.

Jeff Poole added: “While we, rightly, spend a lot of time making sure we are safe today, we also need to ensure that we anticipate safety for tomorrow. The technologies which are entering the ATM world are an opportunity to improve safety and increase operational efficiency. CANSO Associate Members, the organisations that provide products, solutions, and services to the ATM industry, have an important role to play in this.

“They are already driving new solutions across CANSO workgroups in both safety and operations. Their expertise and innovation combined with the knowledge and expertise of CANSO Full Members, the organisations that provide air navigation services, are creating a powerful force for transforming ATM performance globally.”