ANC Talks with the Civil Air Navigation Organisation

The Air Navigation Commission is sharing this series of engaging discussions that bring industry and aviation stakeholders together to discuss different aspects of aviation.

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The Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO) was established in 1996 to bring the world of Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSP) together with leading industry innovators and air traffic management specialists, to share the knowledge to develop the best practice and help to shape the future of air traffic management (ATM).

CANSO logoToday CANSO’s membership includes close to 190 organizations from across the entire ATM industry. The ANSP members control 90 per cent of total global traffic and CANSO includes within the association, leading industry technology innovators and other service providers. Expanded diversity of membership greatly increased CANSO’s ability to bring together, at a single European site and in Europe, close partnerships with aviation organizations across the globe. This is also testament to the importance of regional collaboration in driving innovation. CANSO represents its members’ views in regulatory and industry forums, including at ICAO, where it has official Observer status.

Mr. Simon Hocquard, Director General of CANSO, delivered the presentation with a focus on the current pandemic and from the perspective of ATM. For CANSO, the pace of change is not slowing down; this has been an unprecedented year for ATM and the industry. Throughout the recovery,  working together is paramount, and it will continue to be important for the industry in the future.

Quite simply, the purpose of CANSO is to serve as the voice of ATM and to work with their members from around the globe to continuously improve ATM performance and to collaborate with ICAO to meet its priorities.

The short video shared at the beginning of the presentation painted an excellent high-level story about the impact that COVID-19 has had on the aviation industry and CANSO’s response. For a deeper dive into the impact on air traffic management, it is important to look at the data. Most of the publicly available data that describes the impact of the pandemic on the aviation industry, is understandably focused on passenger numbers or revenue passenger kilometers, which is another key metric. These do not tell the ATM story. Whether an aircraft has 240 passengers or two passengers, the workload for ATM is the same since it translates across an airport departs flying through the air space and has handed off to a file and then landed its destination. What we need to understand is how many aircraft are still flying and receiving air traffic services.

The return of passengers continues to be slow. The risk of the second wave has resulted in a dampening of short-term forecasts, with wide regional variations in the recovery. Without further relaxing of the travel restrictions, or a testing regime that will enable travel, additional recovery will be forced.

To better understand this and the worldwide ATM impact, CANSO began collaborating with data collection agencies in April 2020 to access its global database of satellite-based a digital signal processing (DSP). CANSO has been regularly publishing global and regional movement data to increase understanding of the ways the aviation sector of the industry is affected and manage service continuity.

With the dire traffic situation, one can see the extent to which there is still traffic operating. This serves as a reminder that even though traffic levels are down more than 90%, in the summer, the industry is working hard to keep the airspace open and to provide safe and efficient services to aircraft still flying and to keep a central service operating, operations could not have paused.

The ANSPs responded immediately, by:

  • updating facility procedures to protect staff and safeguard service continuity – sanitation, social distancing, team rostering;
  • reviewing contingency plans; and
  • offering charges holidays, discounts or relaxed payment terms to airline customers.

The ATM account management is relatively unique in that as critical national infrastructure, ANSPs have a mandate to keep skies open and operational whilst ensuring all their staff can keep safe and healthy.

If we turn our eyes to the current day and explore where we are in the recovery, many areas around the globe are currently experiencing the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic cases. Cases are on the rise and traffic restrictions or quarantine measures hindering traffic flow are again being implemented. The rebound and the traffic witnessed over the summer, which consisted of 19 weeks of consecutive growth and averaged delay daily flight numbers globally, has now stalled. Without further relaxing and travel restrictions or more widespread use of testing, or consistent applications or whatever other measures are needed, the recovery still will be further affected.

Looking at further data, which brought us back-to-date and shows the current picture, the charts provided an up-to-date picture of what has happened to the global flight numbers in the global flight hours on a weekly basis, since January.

Until the previous week, the average number of daily flights was 74,000 a decline of 30% from October 2019, and is still a significant difference. We are currently down 37,000 flights daily on volumes over this time last year.

In trying to think about it slightly more positively, global daily flights have increased 138% since the low point in mid-April 2020, and it was not as bad as it was in April.

The average global flight hours fly daily is an important metric for us since it is a good indicator of ATM workload. In the most recent week we have just over 154,000 flight hours daily than 32% from this time last year again trying to look at it positively. That is an increase of 120% from the low point in mid-April, when approximately 70,000 flights flew daily.

The Middle East followed the beginning of March. The client quickly echoed across the globe in the last two weeks of March that is when we fell below 80% for most regions. Now the recovery growth has been modest. With at least four regions remaining below 50% South America and Latin America and the Caribbean regions have remained significantly lower than their normal traffic volumes. Nonetheless, it was as of this week, the North Atlantic, become the most severely affected at minus 59%. In Europe, there has been particularly steep growth in daily flight volumes in June and July with a levelling in August and to climb at the beginning of late August, which has some currently at minus 41%.

The industry has responded quickly to the crisis. Aviation safety and the safety of staff and the continuity of service, were the overriding considerations. Best practices call for social distancing in operational facilities and team fostering aimed at isolating staff and smaller groups to reduce the risk of a broad spread in the event COVID-19 infections occurred.

With key challenges being losing revenue and cost management, falling traffic and deferrals of the air traffic control (ATC) charges are reducing revenue, but airspace availability for the aircraft that are still flying has to be maintained. Cost-containment measures are required across the industry; nevertheless, we must resist making cost reduction decisions now that will jeopardise the recovery when it comes. The ANSPs reviewed the contingency plans in the event of a facility shut down. Local public health authorities around the world were consulted, and despite significant financial impacts on themselves, many offered charges on holiday’s discounts or different arrangements airlines.

The ANSPs continue to deliver a seamless service to our space users and this broadly fits into three categories contingency planning business planning and National Planning. The ATM has taken a variety of steps to safeguard its employees and ensure it can continue to deliver the service during these crises. This includes implementing Endpoint Protection operational, continuity initiatives such as new hygiene and distancing measures dynamic roster during remote working remote research and development and remote maintenance, everything is remote and that is the key.

Looking at business planning, since ANSPs revenues are directly related to the volume of traffic, show they are extremely vulnerable to the decreasing traffic. Unlike the airlines, unfortunately, they cannot suspend operations or lay off a large portion of their staff, particularly the specialists as airspace must remain open, even if operations are reduced. Equally, the supply chain to support the ATM industry is also affected by the volatile demand and shifting priorities, the ATM community is deploying a wide range of cost-containment measures and revise business playing both in the short and longer-term. Finally, the National Planning and his level of ANSPs are working closely with the States.

ICAO estimate of losses to ANSPs in the period Jan-Aug 2020 to be more than USD 9 Billion. ATM is doing everything it can to mitigate the impact of the crisis; the financial stability of the aviation industry is a major concern. The reduced revenue due to falling air traffic and in some parts of all the different payment or various air transport charges by airlines, is impacting the ANSPs and having a knock-on effect in the ATM marketplace, all the while airspace must remain open to any users that need it.

Managing costs is important. CANSO members are taking a hard look at costs. They have limited ability to reduce costs significantly in response to the fall in traffic. The ATM has always had significant upside productivity when traffic grows, but we still need to control it where there are 705 minutes a day or 70 flights a day or even seven flights a day. The challenge in dealing with a revenue gap has meant getting the right balance between the necessary reduction of operating costs in the short terms, without damaging service capability and capacity was also falling short; they retain the ability to handle the resurgence of traffic in the medium and long term. We do need to be mindful of the potential that cost reduction decisions now, just laying off a central staff or cancelling technology products will jeopardize the recovery when it does come, and it will come. We all have some ability to cancel flights and ticket sales suggest a low factor. We have seen some airports close terminals altogether, even close airports, ANSPs, unfortunately, do not have that option since they have a high fixed cost and relatively new to scalability, on the downside.

The ICAO estimate of losses to ANSPs in the period Jan-Aug 2020 is more than USD 9 Billion and many ANSPs are cutting costs significantly by:

  • ceasing training;
  • cancelling or deferring technology projects;
  • laying off staff layoffs or issuing pay cuts;
  • securing financing and loans

This does not count losses in the United States where the bulk of the FAA funding comes from aviation and passenger ticket tax revenues.

The ANSPs planning for the new normal:

  • updating employee protection procedures to accommodate rising traffic levels and higher unit staffing;
  • cost reduction;
  • adjusting corporate strategies and investment plans are given lower traffic levels; and
  • looking for means to enhance resiliency and scalability of service.

The focus areas are, in the short term, evolving safety risks and the infection outbreak. The medium-term involves the lost capacities, while the long term will include reduced progress in modernization.

 

CANSO is advocating for ATM and aviation. CANSO is working with ICAO and States to safeguard aviation and the vital role of ATM; campaigning with industry partners and key stakeholders to secure support; advocating for the industry at a regional level; and collaborating for smooth recovery operations.

CANSO is providing guidance and advice through webinars, podcasts and online forums, guidance publications, fostering the regional coordination on best practice and engaging in dialogue on business mitigation efforts and recovery. CANSO’s work reaches out through 20 Working Groups and three Work Programmes:

Safety: Ensuring safety data provides actionable insights so that organizations can make data-driven safety decisions, CANSO brings experts together to identify and understand ANSP perspectives on items such as:

  • hazard identification;
  • acceptable and unacceptable risk levels;
  • safety performance; and
  • effectiveness of mitigation actions.

Cybersecurity: A new CANSO Standard of Excellence in Cybersecurity uses a maturity model that outlines the elements necessary for an effective approach to cybersecurity and a focus on ANSP cybersecurity, including the supply chain. CANSO–ICAO Safety Connections includes

  • ICAO Safety Management Panel;
  • ICAO Universal Oversight Audit Programme Continuous Monitoring Approach Advisory Group; and
  • ICAO Global Aviation Safety Plan Study Group

CANSO is also involved with ICAO regionally, through The Regional Aviation Safety Group (RASG) and the ICAO Global Reporting Format implementation.

Moving forward with Safety, CANSO provides the Safety Management System (SMS) implementation guide. CANSO provides tools such as the state-owned enterprises (SoE) in SMS to assist Members to understand their maturity level, and to develop a plan for continuous improvement. The CANSO Standard of Excellence in Air Navigation Services – Safety (SEANS-Safety) provides a third-party assessment that an ANSPs SMS meets the ICAO Annex 19 – Safety Management, requirements.

Operations and Strategy:  CANSO is cooperating with ICAO at Air Traffic Flow Management (ATFM), Airport collaborative decision-making (A-CDM) and ATFM/A-CDM Integration Webinars. CANSO Academy: Collaborative Decision Making, CANSO Mombasa ATFM Roadmap, ANSP Support for ATFM and the Regional and Headquarters ICAO Panel representation.The CANSO ATFM Data Exchange Network for the Americas include:

  • Environmental Sustainability
  • Airspace Modernisation
  • Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) and Unmanned Aircraft System Traffic Management (UTM)
  • UTM Task Force
  • Global Benchmarking
  • Strategy and Integration
  • Human Resources Workgroup
  • Operational Training Task Force

CANSO further supports other ICAO initiatives such as:

  • supporting the standardization of COVID-19 related measures and aviation’s recovery;
  • Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS);
  • NOTAM Modernization; and
  • No Country Left Behind.

During the recovery period the operational complexities will vary greatly, the shape of the recovery may be different in different regions; the information sharing and industry-wide coordination will be essential and cooperation with the State regulators and within the industry must continue.

In conclusion,  resiliency will be vital – empowering society and a financial recovery – every industry stakeholder must find a way to enable, to flourish more, and CANSO is proud to offer the key vehicle for this. CANSO is looking forward to working with the industry partners on successfully navigating the recovery. We must continue to create opportunities to share information and collaborate across the aviation industry. To find solutions to the challenges we all face if any industry can aviation can. CANSO acknowledges the excellent work that has been done to safeguard the industry, during these extraordinary times.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During the recovery period the operational complexities will vary greatly, the shape of the recovery may be different in different regions; the information sharing and industry-wide coordination will be essential and cooperation with the State regulators and within the industry must continue.

In conclusion, now that resiliency will be vital empowering society or and financial recovery and every industry stakeholders must find a way to enable, to flourish more, CANSO is proud to offer the key vehicle for this. CANSO is looking forward to working with the industry partners on successfully navigating the recovery. We must continue to create opportunities to share information and collaborate across the aviation industry. To find solutions to the challenges we all face if any industry can aviation can. CANSO acknowledges the excellent work that has been done to safeguard the industry, during these extraordinary times.

 

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