The Civil Air Navigation Services Organization (CANSO) Global Air Traffic Management (ATM) Safety Conference was officially opened by the Deputy Minister of Transport, Honorable Sindisiwe Chikunga, MP, in Cape Town, South Africa.

This six-day Conference, which ends on Friday, 2nd November 2012, is proudly sponsored by Air Traffic and Navigation Services (ATNS) Company of South Africa.

This is the first time ever – in the history of aviation in South Africa – that a conference of this magnitude is taking place on African soil. CANSO is currently divided into five regions, namely Caribbean & Latin America, Asia-Pacific, Europe and the Middle East. The sixth region, CANSO Africa Office will be launched at the said conference.

The development of programs and plans for cooperation in the regional development within the aviation sector; safety and ensuring global interoperability, are among critical issues are to be discussed. The world’s leading experts will exchange knowledge, information and best practices within the aviation environment.

In her keynote speech, Honourable Deputy Minister Chikunga said "Today is indeed another great day in the chapter and history of global aviation safety management. Some 30 years ago no one including us could predict that a gathering of this magnitude would transpire today in the city of Cape Town interrogating the much sensitive and desirable topic of air traffic management safety.

But because of technological innovation and safety concerns in the industry the conference of this magnitude is pertinent to the growth, safety and sustainability of the airline industry. This is a favourable opportunity of the Civil Aviation Navigation Services Organization (CANSO) to properly interrogate and work on its challenges and where it wants to be".

Aviation Safety in Africa has been a focal point during recent conferences held in South Africa, for example, The 2012 Aviation Safety Summit held in Sandton, South Africa on 15th May 2012 and the Airport Expansion and Development Africa 2012 held in November 2011.

"There is a need to learn from accidents and incidents through safety "investigation" so as to take appropriate action to prevent the repetition of such events. In addition, it is important that even apparently minor occurrences are investigated, in order to prevent catalysts for major accidents. Safety analysis and ‘investigation’ is a necessary and effective means of improving safety, by learning the appropriate lessons from safety occurrences and adopting preventative actions.

It is therefore important that an environment exists where occurrences are reported; the necessary processes are in place for investigation and for the development of necessary preventative actions such as re-training and improved supervision" said ATNS Board Chairperson, Captain Mpho Mamashela, during his opening address.

There are several session underway, which are, firstly, the CANSO Operations Standing Committee (OSC), which will host its inaugural ATM Operations Seminar/Workshop (semshop) in Africa. This three-day session has been earmarked to handle regional operations matters, with an eye on global implications.

Secondly, CANSO Safety Standing Committee (SSC) will hold the first African Regional Safety Seminar and the first African ICAO/CANSO Regional Runway Safety Seminar. This session will bring together a multi-disciplinary approach to mitigating runway safety risk.

Lastly, the annual Global ATM Safety Conference – will bring together Safety Director’s from around the world to discuss the accomplishments of last year within the CANSO Safety Programme and the future plans of the SSC.