#CANSOOperations2018: Drones, smart towers and the need for flexible ATM operations

8 March 2018

Brendan Kelly, Head of Systemised Airspace and Airport Integration, NATS, and CANSO Operations Standing Committee Chair, reviews Day One of the CANSO Global ATM Operations Conference 2018.

We have just completed a fantastic first day at the CANSO Global ATM Operations Conference 2018.

When we designed the conference last autumn we hoped to do something different and produce a conference from which everyone left with insights on where our industry is heading and some of the challenges that we face, the need to innovate and the need to embrace rapid technical change – and today hopefully proved to do just that.

We started the day with a wide-ranging overview from CANSO Director General, Jeff Poole, on the present operational issues for ANSPs, the work of the CANSO Operations Standing Committee and CANSO and the operational challenges that we face in the future. This was followed by a key note from Klaus Dieter Scheurle, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of DFS and CANSO Executive Committee Operations Champion, who spoke of the challenges ANSPs will face in the future when their core business may be very different.

Then we moved into the main sessions and explored two topics. The first was a topic that around the world frequently appears on conference programmes – drones. We approached the topic from the perspective of airspace users and explored the range of challenges that will be presented to ANSPs. We were privileged to have speakers from Northrop Grumman, Uber, Facebook, Unmanned Life, DJI, Nanyang Technology University Singapore and DFS and NAV CANADA. The drone industry has a DNA of innovation, which we need to embrace in order to meet and exceed their expectations. We also had a demonstration of a pair of drones working together in an automated way in live the conference room – and the TCAS worked!

Secondly we explored the advances of smart towers both as remote operations and digital enhancements. We had speakers from Indra, Kongsberg Defence and Airospace, Frequentis, Saab, Searidge, Avinor, DFS, LFV, IAA , SAAB and Think Research. The opportunities for the way we can effectively adopt this technology are vast, not just reducing costs but also allowing us to do more, safer and more efficiently.

The CANSO Global Operations Conference 2018 resumes tomorrow with sessions on emerging aircraft technology and the changing requirements of aircraft manufacturers and airlines. Find out more by visiting the event page.



  • Conferences
  • RPAS

About the author

Brendan Kelly, Head of Systemised Airspace and Airport Integration, NATS, and CANSO Operations Standing Committee Chair

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