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Spearheading growth: ATC Global 2014 provides focal point for future progress on ATM programmes worldwide

At the ATC Global Exhibition and Conference on 17-19 September 2014, conference speakers focused on the technical, regulatory and operational challenges to providing a safe and efficient ATM framework for air traffic growth, which will be especially important in China and throughout the Asia Pacific, being the fastest growing air traffic region of the world.

According to Ken Mclean Regional Director, Safety and Flight Operations with the International Air Transport Association (IATA): "Passenger numbers expected to triple to over 2.2 billion. Cargo volumes to rise at a rate of 6.3% per annum. Aviation's direct contribution to GDP will increase by 6.1% per annum in real terms. An additional 1.3 million jobs will be created across the region by 2030."

But airlines are worried by the current high level of operating costs, which account for 26% of the $686 billion total costs bill in 2013, with charges adding on another 9%.

"Without strong efforts to harmonise, the operators are forced to have duplicative avionics - unnecessary variance in procedures - and different communications protocols: all which add cost and decrease safety," said Chris Collins, FAA Office of International Affairs. ATM modernisation can only successfully be implemented on a global lever, which is why's ICAO Aviation System Block Upgrade (ASBU) programme is so important. "We understand that significant additional support is required to assist states with ASBU implementation, as this must be the primary focus - rather than a duplicate harmonisation with state ATM programmes," said Chris Collins.

To make sure it is possible for all States to implement ASBUs in a timely and efficient manner, ICAO and member states have developed the concept of an Implementation kits (iKITs). According to Noppadol Pringvanich, Chief, ICAO APAC Regional Sub-Office. "The ASBU, by nature, is a flexible systems engineering approach to achieving upgrades to a State's AN environment, and may not in itself constitute operational improvements. If we look at a specific example, like airport accessibility, a few questions come into mind such as 'How does this improve my operations?', 'What does this mean in plain language?', or 'What other options/modules are necessary to yield a measurable operational benefit?' Certainly, there is a need to make this whole concept easier to understand – and that is where iKITs fit the bill."

"We needed an approach that facilitates easier implementation of standards and recommended practices (SARPs). We needed an approach that focused on the implementer. To achieve this improvement, we needed to improve how we interact with States. We needed to take the Point of view of the implementer."

Implementing new structures and technologies to support future growth safely will require five elements, said Patrik Peters President and CEO of the International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers' Associations (IFATCA): training, culture, recruitment, harmonized technology equipage on the ground and on the aircraft and automation in support rather than to replace air traffic controllers.

All aviation stakeholder interests must be aligned, said Maurizio Castelletti – the European Commission's Head of Unit (Single European Sky). "It is important to remember that everything we do is aimed at moving people and freight around the world," he said. "To that end, the passenger is the recipient of all improvements (or failures) and we should recall that his experience does not begin and end at the aircraft door. It encompasses the airport and his procession through it. There seems to be little value to the passenger in trimming 10 minutes off of his flight time, and $10 off his ticket price if he loses two hours of his life waiting for an aircraft to access a gate, wait for an air traffic slot or for his baggage to appear at the carousel."

"In almost 100 years of commercial aviation we have progressed greatly in the eyes of the customer, but there is still much to do. If a flight is 'a means to an end', it is an unavoidable act and taken on only where absolutely necessary."

According to Dr Joe Tymczyszyn, Senior Advisor U.S.-China Aviation Cooperation Programme (ACP) and CAMIC Special Academic Counsellor, speaking from a personal point of view: "US performance management is (focused) on safety, capacity, efficiency. China performance management (is focused) mainly on safety. The USA uses big rewards and generally no punishment (Just Culture) to achieve excellent safety with capacity, efficiency; China uses big punishments to maintain its excellent safety record. There are no big rewards for capacity, efficiency. China's focus on safety only (Safety Responsibility Letter) has produced excellent safety record, but may need modification in the future to increase capacity, efficiency while keeping safety.

The conference also examined the potential benefits of implementing new technologies. Pierre Bachelier, head of ATM programmes at Airbus identified three major benefits from progress on initial 4D trajectory management programmes: better flight efficiency (through flight profile and fuel burn optimisation and voiding penalising vectoring instructions), better planning (increased predictability of the real trajectory and arrival time, early agreement with the flight crew on the trajectory to be flown) and improved safety (through enhanced anticipation of traffic situation by ATC).

A SESAR educational workshop was held on 17 September at the ATC Global event, featuring three of SESAR's solutions: initial 4D (i4D) trajectory management, System Wide Information Management (SWIM) and Remote Tower Services.

"Spectrum availability at a global level is critical, said David Bowen, Head of ATM Operations & Systems at the SESAR Joint Undertaking. Integrated remotely piloted air systems into civil airspace is a particular issue of current concern and Michael Standar, Chief Strategies and International Relations at the SESAR Joint Undertaking noted that 15 countries have regulation (but not harmonised) to allow for civil operators to fly RPAS in the their airspace and six allow operations under strict conditions

"There are 2,200 plus civil approved commercial companies and growing," he said. "Most operators and manufacturers have no aviation back ground or ATM knowledge. But the economic potential estimated at several billions before the end of 2020."

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