Comment: Andrew Charlton

In organising the conference part of the World ATM Congress in Madrid, CANSO set itself one target.

‘Give us a series of challenges’ CANSO said, ‘and hold us accountable to them.’

Tony Tyler took CANSO at its word, sort of. He sort of set a challenge, but ironically it was made flesh by the chairman of CANSO, Paul Riemens.

Sadly, that is where it is likely to end.

CANSO looks unlikely to take up the challenge. Hard to be held accountable for a gauntlet you do not acknowledge, let alone pick up.

Tyler told CANSO that it needed to find its paper ticket. Ridding the world of the paper ticket is IATA’s single achievement in the last decade. Indeed, perhaps fittingly, the no-longer with us paper ticket is the no-longer with us Giovanni Bisignani non-memorial.

“Ridding the world of the paper ticket is IATA’s single achievement in the last decade. Indeed, perhaps fittingly, the no-longer-with-us paper ticket is the no-longer-with-us Giovanni Bisignani non-memorial”

Tyler’s point was that even though many IATA members did not want to get rid of paper tickets, wiser heads knew it had to happen. But it would be impossible to get rid of the paper ticket one airline at a time.

It had to be all-in or not at all. ‘What,’ Tyler asked, ‘is that item for ANSPs? You have to find something that only you can do and then you have to show the leadership necessary to make it happen.’ Fighting words that Riemens quickly rose to, ‘Radar,’ he said. ‘We don’t need it because it has been superseded but still there are hundreds of thousands of radars around the world.’

If ever there was a paper ticket for ANSPs, radar is it. There are a number of technologies that do the surveillance better, at significantly less cost, using significantly less spectrum and with greater accuracy.

The only reason we persevere with radar is that it is very labour intensive. Each and every radar producer, installer and maintenance technician votes. We have radar for political reasons, and only for political reasons.

“No other trade association seems so obsessed with being seen standing beside other groups. No other trade association is so determined to right the world”

So CANSO could lead the charge to rid the world of radar. At least, rid the civil aviation world of radar. What a wonderful challenge. You would need all those things that CANSO is so keen to talk about – members working together, getting the airlines on-side and more importantly, getting CANSO’s new best friend ICAO to come to the party and change a few rules. It is the perfect project and only CANSO can deliver it.

Sad to report then, in closing the conference, CANSO’s DG Jeff Poole chose to overlook the entire discussion. Instead he focused on the fact that the Chairman of the Council of ICAO, and the DGs of IATA, ACI and A4A had all attended.

CANSO intends working in partnership with these groups we heard, again and again, but to do what? On that there was silence. The point of a partnership is to achieve something, not to be best friends.

No other trade association seems so obsessed with being seen standing beside other groups. No other trade association is so determined to right the world. Trade associations need to go into bat for their members, and if that happens to right the world, it is collateral benefit.

It is as if CANSO thinks that it can only exist in the reflection of others.

If it got rid of radars, on the other hand, there would be no doubt at all about its existence. And, as it happens, the world would be a better place.

Read More: Airlines, Airports, ANSPs Cooperating, says Canso’s Poole

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