Lessons from Madrid: Stronger cybersecurity can help make airspace safer


Mervyn Harris, Nokia’s Director of ATM Business Development reflects on a big week at the CANSO CEO Strategy Summit 2019 and World ATM Congress 2019.

When the air traffic management (ATM) community gets together, security and safety are always at the top of the agenda. Such was the case at this year’s CANSO CEO Strategy Summit and the World ATM Congress, located in Madrid during the second week of March.

The atmosphere and tone of this year’s events were particularly poignant, taking place just after the tragic Ethiopian Airways crash, which served to highlight the importance of the mission-critical systems on which we are all working together to safeguard.

As an Associate Member of CANSO, Nokia had the privilege of participating in the CANSO CEO Strategy Summit, and also supported World ATM Congress as a sponsor, exhibitor and speaker. As a long-standing participant in these events, I personally found the gatherings to be of exceptional value.

Attended by senior ANSP representatives and other ATM stakeholders, this year’s Madrid events had a strong focus on topics that are of great interest to Nokia, specifically cybersecurity and drone management, and the abatement of the threats they can present.

The CANSO CEO Strategy Summit explored the important role emerging technologies can play in addressing these challenges. We were particularly pleased to learn about the Technology Workgroup that is being created by CANSO; Nokia contributes to several similar ATM-related working groups and has found the process to be extremely beneficial.

The presentation and panel discussion on cybersecurity raised a number of critical issues around the threat to ATM systems. The commitment by CANSO to develop and host a cybersecurity product specifically for ATM systems, to which Nokia intends to contribute, is especially encouraging.   

World ATM Congress, now in its seventh year, offered an incredibly busy three days of networking with the global ecosystem of ATM developers, SMEs and ANSP representatives. The benefits of having all aviation stakeholders in one place are endless, presenting enormous savings in terms of travel cost and time, while enabling unmatched opportunities for face-to-face meetings and consultation.

A key topic of at this year’s event was the ambitious strategies and performance targets set by ICAO and CANSO, which seek to harmonize the performance of ATM systems and applications worldwide. An important related question is how to maintain support for legacy applications and services during the required move to the IP network environment. At World ATM Congress, Nokia demonstrated a set of technologies and services that can help ANSPs meet these challenges.

Overall, it was a highly successful week in Madrid, and we offer a big thank you to CANSO and ATCA for creating venues where the industry can come together and explore constructive solutions to our biggest mutual challenges.

World ATM Congress