This is a speech delivered by Jeff Poole, Director General of the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO), at the ATAG 2016 Forum

CANSO is a strong supporter of the aviation industry strategy to address its climate change impacts and is fully aligned with its industry partners on the four pillars of new technology, efficient operations, improved infrastructure and carbon offsetting.

Air traffic management (ATM) may not be in the front line when it comes to carbon offsetting but is certainly in the front line in the vitally important efforts to reduce carbon emissions and thus reduce the extent of coverage of carbon offsets.

ATM has a vital role to play in reducing carbon emissions through operational efficiencies such as: getting rid of fixed routes so aircraft can fly the most efficient and shortest flight path; allowing aircraft to fly at the optimum altitude and speed over oceanic airspace rather than mandating a fixed speed and altitude; smoother arrival and departure flight profiles at airports rather than traditional stepped profiles; and reducing delays through collaborative decision making between ATM, airports and airlines.

Air navigation service providers are doing their bit to reduce emissions but States have a vital role to play in three areas. The first is investing in ATM infrastructure. Air traffic is growing over five percent annually. Rising demand without increases in capacity adversely impacts safety and efficiency. We need States to invest in modern, efficient, ATM infrastructure to cater for growth. I am still amazed at the huge investments by airports and airlines compared to the struggle that many ANSPs face in justifying and funding investments in ATM infrastructure.

Quite simply, the benefits of huge investments in airports and airlines are threatened by inefficient and fragmented ATM infrastructure. Airports, airlines and ATM infrastructure must go hand-in-hand: there is no point in having a modern, efficient airport and a modern efficient airline without also modernising ATM to improve capacity and overall performance.

Second, I urge States to modernise air navigation services by implementing the Aviation System Block Upgrades. ASBUs give States a clear road map to achieve the necessary infrastructure improvements. They will improve aviation safety, enhance efficiency for airlines, and increase connectivity to boost GDP.

The third area is the harmonisation of airspace, so that a plane can fly using the most efficient operational route, thus saving emissions. Aviation transcends national boundaries, so airspace needs to be organised, and air navigation services delivered, in line with the operational requirement of airspace users rather than according to national borders.

Our goal is to enable planes to navigate seamlessly across national borders, selecting the most efficient routes. States can delegate service provision to other States and/or designate a service provider to provide service coverage for a larger airspace. This does not in any way diminish a State’s sovereignty over its airspace.

In conclusion, I urge States to invest in infrastructure, implement the ASBUs and work with each other to harmonise airspace. Together, we can improve aviation efficiency and cater for the expected increase in air traffic to reduce emissions and fully realise the economic and social benefits of aviation worldwide. On behalf of air traffic management, thank you.