People create safety in air traffic management


Neil May, CANSO Human Performance Management Task Force Co-Chair and Head, Human Factors, NATS on providing the support the industry’s vital human resource needs.

People create safety. It’s only three words but it’s key to everything we do as ANSPs, and it’s the basis for the CANSO Standard of Excellence in Human Performance Management.

Within NATS, we truly believe that people create safety and that human performance is a key component of the provision of a safe, effective and efficient air traffic management (ATM). With the human remaining a critical part of the ATM system for the foreseeable future, the need to manage human performance in NATS remains a high priority and the new CANSO Standard is helping us to achieve this. That’s why we were so eager to actively contribute to its creation.

A key message is that human performance management activities are undertaken by many parts of the organisation and that these need to be coordinated. This is true for NATS with, for example, trainee controller selection, operational training, incident investigation, the design and implementation of new controller tools and airspace, health and wellbeing, and human performance assurance, all being undertaken by different parts of the organisation.

The CANSO Standard of Excellence in Human Performance Management provides NATS with a framework to assess what is already happening across the organisation, to identify where the priorities for improvement are, and to bring them together under a single human performance strategy and work programme. This will ensure that the right human performance activities are being undertaken at the right time with the right results, and that these activities are co-ordinated across organisational departments and across different operational units to get optimal human performance.

The application of the Standard within NATS has informed our human performance strategy and work programme which contains the three key themes of: human performance data; human performance by design; and human performance capability.

  • Human Performance data: Having better human performance data will allow us to measure whether, for example, operational training is effective or whether human performance improvements are being realised by the implementation of new technologies.
  • Human performance by design: By prioritising human performance at the design stage, NATS will ensure that the benefits of our change programme are realised, and future operational roles continue to be meaningful, engaging and achievable.
  • Human performance capability: Raising the human performance capability across the organisation will ensure that human performance, and the drivers of human performance, are widely understood and that human performance activities are better co-ordinated.

NATS is already gaining benefit from the CANSO Standard of Excellence in Human Performance Management through the better coordination and management of our human performance activities. We will continue to use the standard to identify our priorities for improving human performance because we know that people create safety.

If you are interested in the finding out more about human performance in ATM and the related CANSO initiatives, please get in touch.

CANSO People Safety