ATNS Reviews Industry Aviation CDM Conference

20 February 2014

The Air Traffic and Navigation Services (ATNS) SOC, held the first-ever day-long South African Aviation Collaborative Decision Making (CDM) Conference in Kempton Park, Ekurhuleni. The event took place at the end of January 2014. 

According to the operational and economic context for the Global Air Navigation Plan, Air transport today plays a major role in driving sustainable economic and social development. It directly and indirectly supports the employment of 56.6 million people, contributes over $2.2 trillion to global Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and carries over 2.9 billion passengers and $5.3 trillion worth of cargo annually. Air traffic growth has so consistently defied recessionary cycles since the mid-1970s, expanding two-fold once every 15 years. 

Collaborative Decision Making (CDM) is not a new concept. It is being practiced to a certain degree by the FAA, CFMU, the NOC in Australia and South Africa for the last four years, focus being on en-route and airports or both. CDM starts with the sharing of information and then the making of decisions based on the shared information. 

In his opening remarks, Peter Marais, ATNS Executive Operations said “ATNS convenes – on an annual basis – OPSCOM, where we engage the aviation community on matters of efficiency, service delivery and infrastructure amongst other things. The platform allows ATNS the opportunity to engage regularly with the airspace users to establish their needs and determine areas of performance improvement. This is CDM in applied in practice.” 

The ATNS Central Airspace Management Unit's responsibility includes, apart from managing the functions of the slot allocation program, the management of the flexible use of airspace (FUA), facilitating military exercises and operations, special and unusual events and any other activity which might require the use of airspace for a particular time period. The unit is also responsible for the re-routing of traffic, affected by adverse weather and temporary restricted or special use airspace in consultation with the aviation community in a collaborative decision making (CDM) process. In addition they will balance demand against capacity using the ATFM system after CDM with the appropriate aviation community members. 

This CDM process is a key enabler of the Air Traffic Flow Management (ATFM) process allowing the sharing of all relevant information between aviation community members so that the best gate to gate trajectory of flights can be achieved. The principles of CDM have already been implemented in the CAMU day-to-day operations, planning and developments with active involvement of appropriate members of the aviation community. 

Lt-Col Augustine from SAAF, provided the Air Force’s perspective on the complexities of decision making in providing airspace security during high visibility events, touching on the SAAF’S Decision Criteria and its Planning Detection Capabilities. 

Airport Collaborative Decision Making (A-CDM) is the concept which aims at improving Air Traffic Flow and Capacity Management (ATFCM) at airports by reducing delays, improving the predictability of Operations and optimising utilisation of resources. A-CDM is about partnership - airport operators, aircraft operators/ground handlers, ATC and the Central Airspace Management Unit - working together more efficiently and transparently in the way they work and share data. 

Airport CDM brings substantial benefits to all partners by improving the quality of information on which decisions are made. This will lead to enhanced operationally efficiency and facilitate optimum use of available capacity. 

The Benefits of ACDM are vast. So say Hennie Marais, ATNS Executive responsible for Air Traffic Management. “The benefits to Airlines, Air Traffic Control, and Airport Operators for instance, include fuel savings, higher service quality, improved punctuality and customer satisfaction” 

Critical Industry role-players such as SAAF; APO; SAWS; AASA; ACSA; SAA and AeroClub SA attended. 



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