'Share air traffic data beyond borders'

UN civil aviation chief sounds warning as Asia's air traffic grows

The head of the United Nations' civil aviation arm has warned Asian nations that unless they set aside sovereignty concerns and work to share data and information, the region will not be able to cope with its growing number of flights.

"While your region is already confronted by capacity shortages, the current forecast indicates that traffic growth here will only continue," the secretary-general of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), Dr Fang Liu, said yesterday.

"Your current and projected flight volumes are putting the entire regional network under stress, and these challenges do not respect national limits," she said at the opening of the Air Traffic Flow Management Symposium 2017 at the Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre.

The need for collaboration is especially "urgent" in the Asia-Pacific region, which accounts for 33 per cent of global traffic today while achieving a "staggering" 10.2 per cent growth rate last year.

Dr Liu said that for the air transport sector to keep moving people and cargo effectively and efficiently, the industry must push for Air Traffic Flow Management (ATFM) systems and processes.

The aim is to optimise existing capacities of the air traffic management system.

This is done through more precise coordination of take-off and landing by flight planners and air traffic controllers at departure and destination airports, and through the dynamic routing of flights around constrained airspaces.


  • 10 million

    Passengers daily

  • >100,000

    Flights daily

For this to work, a more open attitude towards flight data sharing is required, Dr Liu said. She added that for some states, "this will involve sovereignty concerns".

She urged the 250 delegates at the event, including government representatives and other industry players, to work together to ensure the long-term viability and sustainability of the global air transport network, which currently connects 10 million passengers daily on more than 100,000 flights.

She said: "In many mature air transport markets, we no longer have the luxury of simply adding new airports and slots to accommodate further traffic growth."

Competition for airspace is also accelerating, with new unmanned and commercial space-related services seeking to carve out their own niches for the expanding operations occurring and forecast in those areas, Dr Liu added.

Mr Kevin Shum, director-general of the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS), said Singapore, as a strong supporter of ATFM, will continue to work with its counterparts in the region as well as with other stakeholders.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 21, 2017, with the headline ''Share air traffic data beyond borders''. Print Edition | Subscribe