CANSO Director General highlights the importance of transforming ATM performance in Africa

- Abuja, Nigeria

CANSO, the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation, outlined its vision to improve aviation safety and to achieve seamless airspace across Africa. CANSO’s Director General laid out the steps needed to transform air traffic management performance in Africa and called on States and air navigation service providers (ANSPs) to play their part.

Speaking at the CANSO Africa Conference in Abuja, Nigeria, CANSO Director General, Jeff Poole, said, “Aviation is vital to African development, and air traffic management (ATM) is critical to the safety, growth and development of aviation across the continent. The ATM industry has made good progress but there is still a long way to go. Both the industry and States can take important measures to further improve safety and transform ATM performance in Africa.”

Poole outlined two broad areas of focus for the Africa Region: improving aviation safety and taking steps towards the realisation of seamless airspace.

Aviation safety. Safety is the industry’s number one priority and we are particularly focused on improving safety in Africa. CANSO plays an important role in improving runway safety through its programme to educate airport managers, ANSPs, pilots and air traffic controllers on the causes of, and risks concerning unstable approaches. Its Runway Safety Maturity Checklist provides a vital benchmark for airlines, airports and ANSPs. In addition, CANSO has developed the Standard of Excellence in Safety Management Systems which provides a framework for continually improving the management and oversight of safety within ANSPs. CANSO urges all ANSPs in Africa to take full advantage of these initiatives to improve safety standards across the continent.

Seamless and harmonised airspace. CANSO’s objective is to transform global ATM performance, to enable airlines to fly in seamless airspace globally across ‘invisible’ borders. Its vision is of a globally harmonised and interoperable air navigation system capable of delivering a safe, efficient and seamless service. In Africa, there are a number of challenges we need to overcome to achieve this.

We need to address the lack of infrastructure and air navigation services (ANS) in remote areas. CANSO’s Vision 2020 and its associated Work Plan include the implementation of ICAO’s Aviation System Block Upgrades (ASBU) to define a minimum path of acceptable ANS transformation. We have identified certain priority areas in Africa including: improving en route safety and efficiency through improved appropriate surveillance and communication infrastructure; optimising approach procedures through PBN implementation; reducing delays and improving runway traffic flow and sequencing through Airport-CDM and arrival and departure manager (AMAN/DMAN); improving air traffic flow performance through Air Traffic Flow Management (ATFM) and Collaborative Decision Making (CDM); and others.

We also need to review how airspace is best managed in Africa. Airspace needs to be organised, and air navigation services need to be delivered in line with the operational requirement of airspace users rather than according to national borders. States should consider delegating service provision to achieve larger airspace ‘blocks’ to ensure more effective service provision. ASECNA is a good example in Africa, covering 17 States.

Funding is also a challenge. Many ANSPs have difficulty in adequately funding the modernisation and expansion of infrastructure. CANSO believes that revenues generated by the civil aviation sector should be re-invested in the sector. And regional cooperation and integration should be explored as the best way to secure cost-effective investments and achieve better returns.

Poole concluded, “CANSO has stepped up to the challenge in Africa as a major player, working in partnership and with a clear vision, strategic framework and deliverables. ANSPs, States and CANSO all have important roles to play. CANSO will continue to provide the strategic framework through which we will achieve seamless airspace in Africa. We will deliver on our commitments. We will work in partnership to promote the ATM agenda with industry and States. We will provide advice, best practice, practical training and help. We are here to work with our partners in Africa to transform this great industry in this great continent.”

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