Innovation and a new era of ATM

Written by: Andreia Simoes
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The aviation industry is on the cusp of a paradigm shift. Driven by the return of the capacity crisis (delays escalated in summer 2018, and summer 2019 looks to be no better), together with disruptors such as drones, virtualisation, remote operations, space-based CNS, artificial intelligence and machine learning – and increasing concerns with cybersecurity threats and attacks. It is clear that in order to remain relevant in this new era, ANSPs will have to innovate and adapt their existing business models.

At a policy and regulatory level, the Commission is taking action to address these topics through instruments such as the 'Airspace Architecture Study' and the establishment of a 'Wise Persons Group', which will provide guidance to the incoming Commission on re-thinking the Single European Sky (SES).

Industry must also continue to innovate bottom-up if we are to build a sustainable future for aviation. Innovation cannot only be limited to technology, it must follow an integrated approach across the whole business, from operations to human resources. Collaborating and exploring partnerships inside and outside the aviation industry is also crucial. Only with this mind set is possible to explore synergies that add value, bring scalability, efficiency, new competences, and create opportunities to explore innovative ventures or business models. There are already good examples of successful partnerships in the industry, such as COOPANS and iTech, and some ANSPs have already begun their own innovation journeys.

One example is skyguide, which Helios is supporting on a range of projects. The Swiss ANSP is fully embedding innovation into all areas of its business strategy and is already seeing the benefits of exploring partnerships from inside and outside the ANS domain, such as in the deployment of U-space. This is a path they remain open to continue exploring with like-minded companies willing to work together to share experiences and create innovative services.

When deciding whether to embark on an innovation journey within your own organisation, it is important to understand what you are trying to achieve. Innovating 'because everyone else is' is not a strategy. Innovating is a long journey that has to be part of a wider business strategy focused on tangible and strategic goals, otherwise you will not realise the results of your investment. In skyguide's case, innovation is at the heart of its commitment to transform its business to continue to provide high quality and cost-effective services to its customers.

At Helios we are proud to help our clients on their innovation journeys and help industry build a sustainable future for aviation. We look forward to the coming year which will deliver much change and intensify debate around the future of air navigation services and its multiple dimensions. Both Helios (#339) and skyguide (#1220) are exhibiting at World ATM Congress in Madrid this week, stop by our stands if you'd like to continue the conversation.

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