Shaping the future of ATM in Latin America and Caribbean


Bill Lang, Vice President Air Traffic Management, Adacel Inc., provides a participant perspective of the CANSO Latin America and Caribbean Conference 2019.

Last week, I was reminded of my good fortune to work in our global industry and be able to attend meetings like the CANSO Latin America and Caribbean Conference.

This was the fourth time that the Dutch Caribbean Air Navigation Service Provider (DC-ANSP) has hosted a CANSO event since the first regional conference was held there in 2009. A lot has changed since then, and the ATM world is working hard to keep up with the challenges posed by rapidly changing technology.

Getting the full picture

So, it was heartening to hear from Director General Micilia Albertus-Verboom that DC-ANSP went live with space-based ADS-B (SBADSB) on the 15th of November. SBADSB is now providing surveillance in the North West area of the Curacao FIR where previously there was none. This will enhance safety, efficiency and capacity in the airspace while decreasing controller workload and improving environmental performance.

COCESNA, the organization that manages the upper airspace over Central America, also talked about how SBADSB will help them improve the management of their Pacific oceanic airspace. Space-based surveillance is certainly going to help a lot in oceanic airspace, however, it’s worth noting for those who aren’t familiar with the oceanic world, that trajectory-based operations are already a reality today in oceanic airspaces where advanced ATM automation systems are in use.

Tools and technologies

Airport collaborative decision-making (A-CDM), big data, and unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) traffic management (UTM) are important topics that were discussed on Day 1 of the Conference, reminding me of how broad and complex the domains of our industry are and how new technology is changing our world. Though, some things in our industry remain constant like the needs to improve contingency planning and incident investigation.

What I really liked about the Day 2 Conference Workshop, ‘Navigating the Rapidly Changing World of Technology’, was seeing participant responses to the big questions raised by changing technology in our industry. It won’t come as a surprise to anyone to learn that financial constraints limit the introduction of new technology in the region as they do elsewhere and that planning is a long-term process. However, new technologies are offering the promise of greater operational efficiencies, better service, and costs savings while new models of procurement are being introduced and finding acceptance.

Even the staid world of procurement contracts is being shaken up by new technologies as the need to address cybersecurity incidents and protect the privacy of data from drone operators must now be covered in contracts. For an industry that is used to moving at a steady pace, implementation timeframes are getting shorter as the example of space-based surveillance in Curacao so clearly shows.

Encouraging and exciting developments all around, and looking forward to the next opportunity to explore and discuss.

ADS-B UTM Latin America and Caribbean