Regional coordination and collaboration are key to managing air traffic in Latin America and the Caribbean


Roosevelt Peña, Ma, IDAC ATFM/CDM Project Manager, Safety Risk Management Division Manager and CADENA Chair, explores how CANSO is working with regional partners to transform ATM in the region.

Improving the efficiency and effectiveness of air traffic flow is essential for managing rising demand and improving regional ATM performance. Together the Latin America and Caribbean region’s key players in aviation are working to address this through an innovative CANSO partnership initiative.

During the past few months, Latin America and the Caribbean has experienced a variety of issues that have impacted aviation in the region; from political developments to operational issues that have resulted in ground and airborne delays and aircraft being rerouted. Despite these disruptions, the region was able to reduce the operational impact through excellent coordination and collaborative efforts.

In spring, political developments in Venezuela led to the suspension of general and private aviation operations, commercial passenger operations, and cargo/mail operations from Curaçao and Bonaire to Venezuela. While, overflights were allowed, airlines decided not to overfly the Venezuelan airspace which triggered an increase in operations through adjoining flight information regions (FIR).

During this time, the satellite that provided communications in Colombia´s southeast sector drifted from its orbit which resulted in a temporary loss of air traffic  communication services. To ensure safe operations, Colombia’s air navigation service provider, Aerocivil, closed the southeast sector of its airspace until communications were restored. The closure of this sector affected air traffic operations in the region. When communications were eventually restored, Colombia needed to use an alternate VHF frequency, implementing ten then five-minute trail separation regardless of flight level for all aircraft transiting the southeast sector, until the primary frequency was returned to service.

Implementing collaborative solutions

To restore air traffic flow and mitigate network issues, the CANSO ATFM Data Exchange Network for the Americas (CADENA) played an important role in managing these operational challenges. In both scenarios, timely coordination and collaboration among air navigation service providers (ANSPs), stakeholders and international organisations allowed for proper planning and enabled normal operations to recover as quickly as possible.

For example, following information exchanged through the regional Contingency Coordination Team (CCT) established by international organisations, CADENA was able to quickly gather and share information with participating ANSPs and stakeholders. In the case of Venezuela,  information was obtained directly from the Instituto Nacional de Aeronautica Civil (INAC), Venezuela´s ANSP, and at the same time, CADENA monitored and shared traffic management measures published by the Maiquetia FIR.  

During the Colombia situation, CADENA initiated daily CADENA Collaborative Decision Making (CDM) web conferences which provided tangible information to stakeholders such as reroutes options, sector capacity and expected recovery time. 

During both scenarios, CADENA participants posted real-time operational information to the CADENA Operational Information System (OIS) portal. Since August 2017, this portal has proven to be a game-changing tool that has established region-wide common situational awareness for all stakeholders. 

CADENA members are very proud to be part of this first-of-its-kind regional process. CADENA participants are experiencing first-hand how their hard work is paying off for both the regional ANSPs and the airline stakeholders, and how CADENA is supporting the region to create a vital network for communication exchange.

I would encourage and invite all regional ANSPs and stakeholders to be engaged in this initiative and to be part of the CADENA family. For those outside of the region there is also much that can learned from this model of collaborative operations and applied in a different regional context, and CANSO welcomes any questions or suggestions you might have.

To find out more about CANSO’s regional initiatives, please visit the CADENA page and save the date for the upcoming CANSO Latin America and Caribbean Conference [need link] (18-20 November). You can also read the latest operational best practice guidance in the CANSO library, or get in touch with the team.

ATFM Latin America and Caribbean