Mitigating and managing risk in ATM

5 December 2018

Steve McMahon, Chair of the Safety Standing Committee (SSC) and FAA Deputy Vice President of Safety and Technical Training, highlights the importance of peer-to-peer learning in mitigating and managing risk in ATM.

As we reflect on the CANSO Global ATM Safety Conference 2018, I am happy to have the opportunity to highlight the great conversations and knowledge shared during our time together.

Improving safety performance is best accomplished when leveraging the best practices and shared expertise of the global safety community. A fundamental belief of this approach is that people create safety. To underscore this conviction, two members of the Safety Standing Committee were recognised for their dedication and outstanding contributions to improving global safety: Heather Henderson, Director Corporate Safety and Quality Oversight for NAV CANADA and Co-Chair of the CANSO Safety Performance Measurement Workgroup; and Roger Dillon, Head of Safety and Quality for NATS and Co-Chair of the CANSO Future Safety Development Workgroup.

By sharing their significant knowledge and experiences, Heather and Roger have over many years helped create an environment where others may learn. Their efforts have enhanced the collective knowledge of all CANSO members and provide evidence that we are indeed safer together.

During the conference, attendees examined the latest in aviation safety management and learned innovative ways to make the global aerospace system even safer. We explored global safety perspectives from the Europe, Africa, Middle East and Asia Pacific regions, including a peer review based on the CANSO Standard of Excellence in Safety Management Systems. Through this review, regional air navigation service providers realised significant improvements in safety management system maturity. We also discussed how investing in people, technology and strategic partnerships can help an air navigation service provider to develop a practical method through which they gain trust with staff and customers, and also allow them to better communicate a clear vision for its future safety strategy.

Another intriguing topic was the exploration of the importance of assessing safety not only from the perspective of failures, but also – and in some cases more importantly – safety behaviours that positively influence the air navigation system. We learned how safety management system principles may lead us to proactive safety approaches through an understanding of improved awareness, just culture, safety accountabilities and safety training. We further investigated common risk analysis processes and considered ways through which big data management can combine with risk analysis information to provide a deeper level of safety intelligence. In particular, we learned how machine learning and targeted analytics can help us better recognise patterns in safety data and determine likely outcomes. Most impressively, machine learning and associated analytics not only support the detection of what is occurring, but also support continuous improvement by correlating what should be done about it. Many thanks to Alastair Muir, Heino Küster, Tembisa Maphike, Des Whitty, Magnus Teo Tian Hong, Antonio Licu, Shayne Campbell, Kristen Summers, and Sinead McCloskey for their engagement with the CANSO community!

The CANSO safety community also engaged in constructive dialog on the future of the CANSO Standard of Excellence in Air Navigation Services - Safety (SEANS-Safety), with a focus on continuing to validate member self-assessments, as requested.

Finally, the conference wrapped up with a shared commitment to progressing the amazing work of the CANSO Safety Standing Committee and endorsement of the 2019 work stream. Some key focus areas for this upcoming year are creating a digital tower safety case implementation guide, further developing new entrant safety management methods, expanding risk-based detection, testing the CANSO-Airports Council International (ACI) runway safety checklist, fusing and analysing additional data sets into annual safety performance benchmarking, creating a work group to further our work in human performance management, and an exploration of cyber-safety roadmaps that can help air navigation service providers assure that their services remain safe.

Last and most certainly not least, on behalf of the CANSO Safety Standing Committee, I would like to thank NAVCANADA for its gracious support in hosting the CANSO Global ATM Safety Conference 2018. Additionally, I am pleased to announce that DSNA will be hosting the CANSO Global ATM Safety Conference 2019 in Paris. Over the next year, I expect the CANSO community will make great improvements to global safety, and I eagerly anticipate this through 2019!



  • Conferences

About the author

Steve McMahon Chair of the Safety Standing Committee (SSC) and FAA Deputy Vice President of Safety and Technical Training

Subscribe to the CANSO publications