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Progressing the industry

Posted: 6 June 2012 | Mark Glover, Commissioning Editor, International Airport Review | No comments yet

Following the resignation of CANSO’s former Director General Graham Lake, Samantha Sharif, CANSO’s Director of Industry Affairs has stepped in as Interim Director General. Mark Glover from International Airport Review spoke with Samantha about this new role, the supposed decrease in Air Traffic Controllers and the much lauded Waypoint 2013 Strategy.

Mark Glover: How important is it to maintain a strong relationship with the Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs)?

Samantha Sharif: Maintaining strong relation – ships is important in any business, but for a trade association like CANSO it is absolutely essential. Building and maintaining strong relationships is core to everything that we do. It is one of the fundamental principles on which we operate.

When CANSO was founded in 1996 we brought together only a handful of ANSP CEOs. Today CANSO brings together more than 140 (ANSPs) and industry suppliers from all over the world, with members in every region. This is largely thanks to the nature of CANSO as a politically neutral platform for sharing knowledge and expertise, but also its spirit of working together to develop common solutions to common challenges.

Following the resignation of CANSO’s former Director General Graham Lake, Samantha Sharif, CANSO’s Director of Industry Affairs has stepped in as Interim Director General. Mark Glover from International Airport Review spoke with Samantha about this new role, the supposed decrease in Air Traffic Controllers and the much lauded Waypoint 2013 Strategy.Mark Glover: How important is it to maintain a strong relationship with the Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs)?Samantha Sharif: Maintaining strong relation - ships is important in any business, but for a trade association like CANSO it is absolutely essential. Building and maintaining strong relationships is core to everything that we do. It is one of the fundamental principles on which we operate.When CANSO was founded in 1996 we brought together only a handful of ANSP CEOs. Today CANSO brings together more than 140 (ANSPs) and industry suppliers from all over the world, with members in every region. This is largely thanks to the nature of CANSO as a politically neutral platform for sharing knowledge and expertise, but also its spirit of working together to develop common solutions to common challenges.

Following the resignation of CANSO’s former Director General Graham Lake, Samantha Sharif, CANSO’s Director of Industry Affairs has stepped in as Interim Director General. Mark Glover from International Airport Review spoke with Samantha about this new role, the supposed decrease in Air Traffic Controllers and the much lauded Waypoint 2013 Strategy.

Mark Glover: How important is it to maintain a strong relationship with the Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs)?

Samantha Sharif: Maintaining strong relation – ships is important in any business, but for a trade association like CANSO it is absolutely essential. Building and maintaining strong relationships is core to everything that we do. It is one of the fundamental principles on which we operate.

When CANSO was founded in 1996 we brought together only a handful of ANSP CEOs. Today CANSO brings together more than 140 (ANSPs) and industry suppliers from all over the world, with members in every region. This is largely thanks to the nature of CANSO as a politically neutral platform for sharing knowledge and expertise, but also its spirit of working together to develop common solutions to common challenges.

As an organisation grows in size it can become increasingly difficult to maintain the same level of detailed dialogue. This is one of the reasons CANSO members created regional offices with dedicated regional CEO Committees. The chairs of these committees belong to CANSO’s global Executive Committee and co-ordinate with each other at the strategic level. Meanwhile, at the secretariat level, regional directors are responsible for directly managing relationships within this platform.

As Interim Director General and in my capacity as Director of Industry Affairs, I try to keep in touch with ANSP leaders and managers as much as possible but the reality of the job means that this isn’t always possible on a face-to-face basis. That’s not to say I don’t try, of course! CANSO’s regional conferences and events are a great way of meeting current and prospective member ANSP managers from all over the world. We also use regular tele-conferences as a way of maintaining contact and progress. Between those meetings CANSO has a very comprehensive range of publications which help keep our members upto- date with the latest news and developments, both within CANSO and in the ATM industry.

MG: You previously mentioned in your blog that it is important to respond effectively to situations such as volcanoes or snow. What are they key factors to an effective response to these types of situations?

SS: Preparation is essential. Having a mature crisis plan that comprises robust, tested and practiced policies and procedures is key. Knowing what to do, when and with whom allows you to focus on the bigger picture and to manage a response and effectively communicate with all relevant stakeholders.

To ensure that CANSO is fully prepared for any scenario, we recently created a Policy Standing Committee (PSC) to develop and promote global policies and perspectives. How CANSO responds to industry crises will form an important part of the PSC’s remit.

For our members, one of the benefits of CANSO is that best practice and experience can be shared effectively all over the world. Volcanoes, for example, can be fairly common – place outside of Europe, so what can European ANSPs learn from other regions? Similarly, what expertise can European ANSPs share with the rest of the world?

MG: What will the Waypoint 2013 Strategy bring to the sector?

SS: The Waypoint 2013 Strategy was unanimously endorsed by CANSO Members in 2010 and seeks to build on the achievements made under the Imagine 2010 Strategy. It sets out clear areas where CANSO can help the industry deliver ‘quick wins’ through promoting the transition from AIS to AIM, Performancebased Navigation, Airport Collaborative Decision Making (CDM) and collaborative traffic management (ATFM), the flexible use of airspace and the air/ground data link.

The Waypoint Strategy also set about streamlining CANSO activities into three standing committees (Safety, Operations and Policy) while ensuring greater cross-regional co-ordination.

MG: What does all this mean for the industry?

SS: In 1997, CANSO members agreed a global vision for the future of ATM: seamless air navigation services. Since then, as CANSO has matured, it has become widely recognised as the global voice of ATM. Airspace users and aviation bodies such as ICAO are increasingly looking to CANSO to add value by contributing to a safer, more efficient and cost-effective air traffic management system.

Waypoint 2013 is the first in a series of three year strategies designed to focus on key nearterm concrete deliverables that will push the industry towards the CANSO vision. All this ensures that CANSO serves as a global aviation partner and transforms ATM for the benefit of all stakeholders.

MG: What is the value of ANSPs sharing best practices and success stories?

SS: Sharing best practice and success stories isn’t about patting ourselves on the back. CANSO Member ANSPs are committed to being costeffective and customer-oriented organisations. It is CANSO’s belief that learning from one another, rather than re-inventing the wheel, is fundamental to this aim. Furthermore, as CANSO has expanded its membership and geographical representation, a number of common themes have emerged, so it makes sense to work together and develop solutions to these challenges.

As members of a global community which seeks to transform ATM performance, it makes sense that this knowledge and experience is shared and distributed around the world. It saves time, money and ultimately helps improve air navigation services.

MG: Are you concerned by the decrease in the number of ATCOs? What can be done at the root level to encourage more uptake?

SS: First of all, the jury is out on whether there is an ATCO shortage; certainly there are mixed views on this topic within the industry. What we do know is that the ATM industry is changing and so are the demands placed on the air traffic controller workforce. As referenced in the CANSO Air Navigation Services Performance Report 2011, ANSPs are generally doing more with less; controlling more movements with fewer staff than ever before. While this is testament to the efficiency of our Member ANSPs, of course we need to ensure our staffing levels continue to meet the needs of the airspace users while maintaining high levels of safety.

Today air traffic controllers are often anchored to a specific location with little option to move to a new job at a new location. This is prohibitive for everyone; a more flexible approach is key. At the root level, ATCO training needs to be reviewed to ensure that the skills, training and qualifications required for air traffic control staff are widely recognised across borders.

MG: Going forward, where would you like to see the sector within the next 10/20 years?

SS: The ATM sector needs to make significant progress towards a globally seamless air navigation system. This will reduce costs, increase efficiency and enhance aviation safety.

MG: What do you need to get there?

SS: Far more collaboration between ANSPs and civil-military stakeholders, and the necessary operational and political leadership to ensure that both onboard and onground capabilities are taken advantage of. The recently published Boeing-CANSO document Accelerating Air Traffic Management Efficiency lists the critical actions required in the short to medium term, and is a great read for anyone wanting to know more about what needs to be done to deliver change.

MG: How do you intend to approach your role as Interim Director General?

SS: Listening carefully to the needs of our members, partners and other air traffic management stakeholders has never been more important. We are committed to representing the best interests of our members and continuing our important work transforming ATM performance.

As Interim Director General my main focus will be ensuring that the tremendous progress made under the Waypoint 2013 Strategy continues as planned. On top of our usual activities in the areas of ATM safety, operations and policy, we have a number of important conferences and events on the horizon: our ATM Summit and AGM in June 2012, the ICAO 2012 Air Navigation Conference in November and of course the first annual World ATM Congress in Madrid in 2013, to name a few. These are all important opportunities to hear the views of the ATM community and shape the future of our industry, so it is vital that CANSO – as the global voice of ATM-comes prepared to speak with both authority and clarity. I will be working very closely with the CANSO Executive Committee, secretariat and our industry partners to ensure this happens.

 

Biography

Samantha Sharif is currently Interim Director General of the Civil Air Navigation Services Association (CANSO), which represents the interests of the air traffic manage – ment industry worldwide. Samantha is also the association’s Director of Industry Affairs, a role which she has held since 2007. In this capacity, Samantha oversees CANSO’s global programmes and policy development, and contributes to membership and commercial expansion strategies.

Prior to joining CANSO, Samantha spent 10 years as Head of Legal Services and in senior management roles at Airservices Australia and Airways Corporation of New Zealand, the air navigation service providers for the respective countries.

Samantha is a regular presenter at global aviation industry conferences and events and has written and published extensively on aviation industry issues.

Samantha has also been a Director, Trustee, and Adviser to a wide range of organisations within the Australian and New Zealand aviation industry and other sectors over the last decade.

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