Global ATM safety: What can we do next?


Marius Beliunas, Head of Safety and Security, Oro navigacija, explores how being part of CANSO offers valuable educational and networking opportunities. 

Being a rookie in the field of air navigation services safety I had an invaluable opportunity to be a part of a CANSO-led international event, which brought together key players and provided a forum for professional discussion, brainstorming and sharing best practices – the CANSO Global ATM Safety Conference 2019.

I would like to give my sincere thanks to DSNA and, in particular, their CEO Maurice Georges, for the warm welcome, exceptional French hospitality, and for the excellent event. No doubt, in many thoughts of many minds the city of romance will now survive as a city of aviation safety.

Meeting of minds

Speaking about the conference, the varied presentations, fascinating themes, debates, 20/20 challenge, and entertaining and insightful speakers who grabbed and held the audience’s attention, were outstanding. All this being seasoned with a healthy dose of subtle humour.

In the Middle East there’s a saying about 3 cups of tea. The first time you share tea with locals, you’re a stranger. The second time, you’re an honored guest. The third time you become family. At the conference three cups of tea were substituted with three glasses of water, silently standing on the lectern as a symbol of the friendly atmosphere of the event.

Assessing developments

The objectives of the Safety conference were met, the superior organization of the event being key to success. It was impressive to hear top management speak about safety markers and explain safety situations with clarity and precision. Some important messages and themes that emerged from presentations, debates and discussions included the importance of digital safety, and streamlining safety and operational objectives; are we too safe? Or are we safe at all? How can safety expenses be justified? It was also extremely interesting to get information about the issues of concern in Africa, Americas, Australia and Asia.

The conference served as a useful tool to help enhance regional awareness, open international cooperation, as well as encourage close cooperation with airlines to understand their needs in an ever-changing environment.

Finally, it was exciting to acknowledge that the future of ATM is knocking on the other side of the door, with the development of spacecraft, supersonic flights or passenger drones.

Looking to the future

Being a novice in aviation safety, though quite an old-timer in the realm of security, I have no doubts safety shouldn’t be downplayed. We need to reach Safety 2 and advance to the next level. And we must take into account the impact security has on safety. The conference highlighted that cybersecurity threats are the most linked to safety. But what about other threats? How do other threats, like terrorism, espionage, subversion, sabotage and organised crime (TESSOC) impact ATM safety? We need to be prepared for a multitude possible scenarios and find new ways of working together to mitigate risk.

To conclude, the conference was an undoubtedly worthwhile event at which the principle ‘need to share’ overrode the principle ‘need to know’. It left me convinced that we should step up our efforts and go the extra mile to avoid facing the question ‘could we have done more?’, and ask ‘what can we do next?’.

CANSO Conferences Safety