Safety conference gets ‘practical’ with proposed strategies

Written by: Glen Smith
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CANSO's Global ATM Safety Conference certainly lived up to the expectations set out by Director General Jeff Poole in his welcoming address. The annual conference, which took place a few weeks ago in Bangkok, delivered stimulating debate and the prospect of genuine change for the better, with a focus on practical solutions for the ops room.

AEROTHAI were magnificent hosts to the 100 or so people who attended from the five CANSO regions. Jeff Poole kicked off proceedings by describing CANSO's drive for further improvements in Safety Management Systems, runway safety, Just Culture and safety performance benchmarking and metrics.

Consensus at the conference was that the tools to support ATM risk assessment need to be adapted to better suit operations room language. This is particularly important to help small and medium sized ANSPs adopt and implement these tools.

Canada, being the second largest country in the world in terms of land mass after Russia, is turning to a civilian based satellite constellation to support its ATM operation. Nav Canada gave a presentation on the scope and status of its ADS-B implementation programme, which is part of the joint venture named Aireon. The purpose of Aireon is to expand air traffic surveillance to the entire planet by installing ADS-B receivers on a constellation of 66 Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites.

Inmarsat presented a report on the methodology used to calculate the projected flight path of flight MH370. Inmarsat have traditionally developed services for aircraft manufacturers and airlines, but are now aiming to extend these services to support ATM.

Helios has been contributing to the CANSO Future SMS Working Group, chaired by NATS and Airservices Australia. Some of the outcomes were presented at the conference for agreement. Next steps are likely to focus on effective collection and analysis of digital data, surveys and other mechanisms. The aim is to identify change/variability of performance (resilience) in the operations room and the relationship with procedures, training, policy, equipment, etc. within the ATM system. Common in-service performance and incident investigations taxonomies will be key to helping ANSPs introduce barrier model thinking to their organisations to manage safety risk. Airservices Australia brought this topic alive when they presented how barrier model thinking was being developed for use there.

It was particularly interesting to see the similarities and synergies between the presentations; for example models to collate information, demonstrate risk and focus attention. Whether the focus is on a "barrier model", an "incidents database" or "safety performance indicators", there was consensus that relating information 'practically' and using common taxonomy within and between organisations is a "must-have". Another particularly powerful outcome from the conference was that the smaller ANSPs are asking questions that are making the larger and more complex ANSPs step back and re-think strategies and solutions for demonstrating and focusing operational risk.

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Glen Smith
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