Paradigm shift urged in Middle East ATM arena
A paradigm shift away from the established norm of the Middle East's ANSP operating arena is needed to address the region's growing ATM dilemma, according to a private sector leader.
Addressing the need for sector innovation in the first ATM Middle East Survey, Peter Mohring, Managing Director Aviation, of Serco (Pictured right) said most air navigation service providers have been too traditionally bound by international state rules and procedures and needed to be motivated towards innovation to succeed.
“The modus operandi for most ANSPs defaults to operational delivery, safety and efficiency. I believe we need more thought leadership in the industry. Governments and senior ANSP management most do more to create a safe environment for the key stakeholders involved in ATM transformation and provide them with permission to think outside the box and be guided, but not constrained, by regulatory or political boundaries,” said Mohring.
"This requires a paradigm shift away from the norm in the Middle East ANSP arena and we need only look to the major airline manufacturers who are pushing the boundaries of future aircraft designs to see the benefits these programmes can yield.”
In the survey, produced by Helios in conjunction with Air Traffic Management magazine, a panel of experts encompassing regulators, ANSPs, trade association representatives, airlines and international agencies, concurred with a need for regional ATM harmonisation and that ATM investment had lagged significantly behind infrastructural spending.
"We believe that the priority for the region now is to catch-up with, and exploit, existing technologies, and hence there is a need for an R&D mechanism in the region after reaching the optimum level of usage of existing technology,” said Abdul Wahab Teffalia, Secretary General of the Arab Air Carriers Organisation (AACO).
The survey, released to coincide with the ATM Global exhibition and conference in Dubai, echoed the sentiments of many of the event’s delegates who repeatedly called for greater regional efforts in the face of mounting pressure on airspace capacity which many warn will hamper future growth.
Paul Griffiths, CEO, Dubai Airports (right) said air capacity is the biggest constraint to growth and needed urgent attention. He told the conference: “Some 1.7 billion people will be travelling in and out of Asia by 2030 and geographically, many of them will be coming through Dubai, we have to be ready.”
Griffiths went on to warn that if airspace constraints were not solved, Dubai’s ambitions to be the world’s leading intercontinental hub could be held back, growth will slow and competitors, such as Istanbul could step into the void.
“Bear in mind that this sector contributes US $22 billion to the GDP of Dubai. The resources are there and the technology – we need the air capacity to grow and clearly safety is a major concern. We know military airspace takes up the majority of the sky here but there are plenty of examples around the world where civil and military agendas have been met in consultation. If we don’t do something about creating more air capacity to keep up with the growth, the wheels will come off the bus.”
For some, solving political challenges is more important than technological investment. Hicham Bennani, Safety and Air Navigation Expert for the Arab Civil Aviation Commission, said regional politics was behind many of the problems. “The MID airspace is fragmented and efficiency must be improved and, in time, capacity increased. There is an urgent need to balance airspace demand using opportunities such as the development of the Empty Quarter and opening new routes using the available technologies. There is also a need to harmonise service provision across states so all reach and acceptable level. If achieved, this will certainly serve users more than investment in new technologies.”
Acknowledging that local political instabilities is impeding harmonisation through roughly 30% of the states under accreditation of the ICAO MID Regional Office, the organisation’s Regional Director said ICAO will continue to drive progress “which is practical and attainable” through the MID Region ATM Enhancement Programme MAEP.
Mohammed Ali Ahmed, Director of Air Navigation, Bahrain Civil Aviation Affairs said a Middle East SESAR or NextGen should be the basis for regional alignment of ATM system capabilities. “A central flow management function that oversees air routes would also allow a more efficient and safe flow of air traffic,” he said.