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Air Traffic Safety












The global aviation system has, in recent times, been considerably impacted – and still continues to be impacted – by quite a number of dynamics. There is, for example, the global climate change concern, occasioning the industry’s ongoing slow but steady shift in the direction of aviation sustainability and everything that would crystallize into definite plans for curtailing, if not entirely nipping in the bud, aviation’s contribution to the greenhouse effect. There are issues surrounding the increasing evolution of aviation business landscapes and the growing complexity of aviation working environments. Of course, there is also the emergence of a potpourri of technical, operational, procedural and regulatory frameworks that are speaking to the overarching need for globally-coordinated paradigm shifts on all fronts.

To be sure, one strand running through the fabrics of these dynamics is the impact of the burgeoning evolution, complexity and adoption of cutting-edge – and often disruptive – technologies in the global aviation ecosystem. For industry stakeholders – ANSPs, OEMs in the systems sector, CAAs, regional and international organisations, airport authorities, aircraft manufacturers, industry research/development entities, and vendors – the cumulative effects have been both apparent and phenomenal.


For the CNS/ATM or simply the air traffic safety electronics realm, the dynamics occasioned by the growing automation and digitalization of the air traffic safety electronics landscape, the imminence of the invasion of the ATM and air navigation spaces by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies, and the frenzied strides towards ATM modernization, harmonization and interoperability are just too fundamental to be underestimated not to talk of being overlooked. Little wonder, then, that the 51st General Assembly of the International Federation of Air Traffic Safety Electronics Associations (IFATSEA), scheduled to hold in Argentina from 12 to 17 November 2023, will be x-raying a wide range of issues affecting air traffic safety electronics personnel (ATSEP) through the prism of the Assembly’s theme, which is: “ATSEP – Maintaining safety, performance and cyber resilience for global ANS.”

Beyond the focus of the coming IFATSEA General Assembly, the increasing complexity of the ANSP working environment actually requires that the focus of the industry should necessarily be riveted on issues revolving around the maintenance of safety, performance, operational efficiency, and cyber resilience in the ANS working environment. A key point worth stressing in this respect would be the need to identify and define strategies and techniques for tackling issues surrounding the development of the competence and skills of ATSEP in the technologized 21st century era and beyond. Captain Alkali Mahmud Modibbo, the Rector and Chief Executive of the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology, underscores the significance of the adoption of cutting-edge training tools and technologies for honing skills and enhancing competence in this edition’s Executive Platform column. But the question actually goes beyond the significance of adopting technologies in the training environments to encapsulate posers revolving around the relevance and availability of appropriate tools and technologies as highlighted in this edition’s Context column.

Given the changing faces of CNS/ATM operations the world over, the growing availability of versatile, agile and flexible technological innovations invariably means that ANSPs would be looking around for OEMs that can meet their needs for the upgrade of their infrastructures. For this, pricing issues and issues connected with ANSP economics vis-à-vis equipment procurement, FATs and SATs, maintenance contracts, and personnel training will be very fundamental. Aspects of these issues are examined in this edition’s Industry Analysis column.

As this edition was winding up to go to press, a cheering news filtered in regarding the publication of regional guidance materials for implementation of air navigation facilities and services in the Asia and Pacific Region of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), following the adoption of a number of conclusions and decisions by the Twenty Seventh Meeting of the Communications, Navigation and Surveillance Sub-group (CNS SG/27) of the Asia/Pacific Air Navigation Planning and Implementation Regional Group (APANPIRG) in line with APANPIRG Decision 26/65, which empowers Sub Groups of APANPIRG to adopt Conclusions and Decisions on technical and operational matters. The conclusion that is of particular significance to air traffic safety electronics practices in Asia/Pacific is Conclusion CNS SG/27/13 relating to the Regional Guidance Document for Addressing Human Factor Issues of ATSEP. Although the applicability of this guidance material is restricted to the Asia/Pacific region, its adoption, in no small measure, portends a brighter future for the global air traffic safety electronics professional landscape. ◙