Informing and protecting safe and seamless ATM operations

29 November 2018

Osman Saafan, Director Corporate Safety, Security and Military Affairs, DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH and Vice Chair, CANSO Safety Standing Committee, reviews day three of the CANSO Global ATM Safety Conference 2018.

After a fantastic CANSO Global Safety Achievement Award Dinner, hosted by NAV CANADA and providing another great opportunity to network and connect, my valued peers from all over the world couldn’t wait to start another interesting day engaging with ATM’s greatest challenges.

Heather Henderson and Bruno Ochin from NAV CANADA teed off the day with a presentation of the de-identified safety benchmarking data, addressing lagging indicators of safety performance leading indicators, such as safety management system (SMS) maturity. It was interesting to see how common risk analysis processes and common taxonomy help us to better understand risk and conduct productive comparisons. ANSPs are encouraged to join this benchmarking effort in the future and benefit from its lessons.

So where do we stand in terms of ANSPs’ SMS Maturity? Tony Licu from EUROCONTROL presented the results of the 2018 EUROCONTROL/CANSO Standard of Excellence in Safety Management Systems Maturity Questionnaire. With data from 38 European and 11 non-European participants, this session explored strengths and weaknesses and how we can support Members in further maturing. Both sessions demonstrated the benefit of sharing our data and learning from one another’s experiences, and I feel quite encouraged to continue that journey.

We then moved on to discussing safety-relevant cybersecurity, surely one of the most challenging topics of the day. Cyber security incidents are increasing in frequency, magnitude and complexity, and they have no borders. The aviation sector is not immune to this danger, and as its dependence on information and communication technology grows, it becomes more and more attractive as a target. Supported by presentations from EUROCONTROL’s Tony Licu, Huw Ross from Helios and Jerry Hancock from Inmarsat, safety experts from all over the world discussed questions like: What concrete threats does aviation face? What are our vulnerabilities? How are safety and cyber security interdependent? And what can CANSO do to support its members in preparing for current and emerging threats?

The panel discussion that followed, moderated by Simon Hocquard, Deputy Director General, CANSO, revealed a remarkable desire among the safety experts to better understand these issues and consider how a different approach to collaboration between safety and security experts could strengthen the ANSPs’ efforts to protect air navigation services and support a safe, secure and efficient air transport system. Cyber security is not a new threat; indeed CANSO produced the CANSO Cyber Security and Risk Assessment Guide to address this. But there is much more work to do, so we will stay on course and figure out what must be done next.

Kim Nichols from Airways New Zealand brought our attention to one of the highest priorities for the ATM industry by presenting the results of the 2018 ACI/CANSO Runway Safety Survey. In 2018, 12 ANSPs and 11 airports participated in the trial survey, which demonstrated that ANSPs and airports share topics of interest for local runway safety teams. Participants agreed unanimously to expand the survey to the full CANSO membership in 2019.

The voice of the customer was represented by Captain Julian Price from Unitatis, who described the gap in understanding between the flight deck and ATC. Through an interactive exercise, he invited the audience to take the pilot’s perspective in dealing with ATC clearances while approaching an airport, with emphasis on unstable approaches. It was immediately clear that a disconnect between the parties creates potential for misunderstandings, and Julian demonstrated how a better understanding derived from an appropriate familiarisation programme could have helped to avoid an unnecessary high workload in the cockpit or even to avert go-arounds.

All in all, it was another fruitful and educational day here at the 2018 CANSO Global ATM Safety Conference.



  • Conferences

About the author

Osman Saafan Director Corporate Safety, Security and Military Affairs, DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH and Vice Chair, CANSO Safety Standing Committee

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