A new story for civil aviation


On International Civil Aviation Day, Simon Hocquard, CANSO Director General, reflects on a milestone moment for the industry.

As we mark the 24th International Civil Aviation Day I am struck by two things, the amazing progress we’ve made in the past quarter century but also the acutely devastating situation we currently find ourselves in. Civil aviation has developed rapidly in recent decades thanks to new technologies and processes propelling innovation faster than ever before, but we’ve also faced unprecedented losses this year as demand for air transport fell to historic lows. And so as we look ahead to a new year, we find ourselves at the beginning of a new story – the pages for which we’re about to rewrite.

As I took my place alongside some of the industry’s keenest minds, most creative innovators and let’s face it, determined industry disruptors, at Amsterdam Drone Week last week, it was clear that the course of civil aviation is changing astronomically.

In a year when drones have become a critical new player in air transport, delivering vital goods and services while many traditional aircraft lay dormant, it is a time like no other. As our industry continues to rebuild, and to shift and shape with the fluctuating tide of air traffic demand, the scene has been set for a new future for civil aviation.

We are now at a time when we must embrace the ingenuity and resilience of the global air transport network like never before and look for opportunities to be more agile and innovative, building a different aviation ecosystem and finding new opportunities for growth.

Essential to this is collaboration and commitment. And as this year has shown, we cannot do this alone. The aviation industry needs to work together to champion change and create a new storyline. That is why CANSO has taken a central role in cross-industry recovery efforts, and why we’re calling for even deeper cooperation in the future.

We also need a clear vision – a plot that binds us together. And right now this is missing. We don’t have a globally shared vision of what our future sky will look And as the rise of drones and commercial airspace users has shown us, every key player in the airborne vehicle ecosystem has a completely different view of what the future should hold, and what technology is required to support it.

What we rapidly need therefore is a shared vision for total traffic management that supports all types of airborne vehicles, and why I announced at Amsterdam Drone Week that CANSO is launching a Complete Air Traffic System Global Council.

This new Council will be an innovation forum for industry leaders to come together and work closely with policy makers to realise a clear joint vision in accelerated timescales. It is an exciting new chapter in our story, in which we each have important roles to play.

And the plot doesn’t stop there. While the industry has been bracing itself for further uncertainty, our great minds have also been working on the tools we’ll need to help us on our journey. From paving the way for remote and digital tower implementation worldwide, and developing the latest operational best practice, to collaboration cybersecurity expertise, the pace of progress in civil aviation is unstoppable.

And just as the CANSO ATM Traffic Report and new CEO Series have shown, we may be down but are most certainly not out. We have a job to do and we’re here to do it. This year may have been tough but together we’re building safer skies, creating a more sustainable industry and improving seamless air travel globally. Essentially, civil aviation has a new story to tell – and we hold the pen.