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NAV CANADA celebrates first decade

NAV CANADA is celebrating its first decade as the owner and operator of Canada's civil air navigation system.


September 19, 2007
Carey Fredericks

NAV CANADA is celebrating its first decade as the owner and operator of Canada's civil air navigation system, providing air traffic control, flight information and many other services. On November 1, 1996, NAV CANADA purchased the system from the federal governmentfor $1.5 billion.

"In 10 short years, we have improved safety, reduced system delays, added some 250 operational air traffic controllers to the centres and towersthroughout the system, invested $1 billion in new technology and facilities, controlled our costs and ensured a strong financial foundation," said John Crichton, President & CEO. "And we have become recognized as a leading provider of advanced air traffic management technology to other air navigation service providers around the world.

"Safety improvements are due to effective collaboration with customers and industry partners, but also to our success in adding operational staff, as well as the application of new technology such as our automated conflict alert system," said Kathy Fox, Vice President, Operations. "However, we will never be complacent about safety, and our intention is to make this safe system even safer."

The technology NAV CANADA has developed at home to enhance safety and service is also in demand abroad. National Air Traffic Services (UK NATS) is in the process of installing NAV CANADA electronic flight data technology in another control tower in the UK, this time at Luton Airport near London.
The technology, providing "paperless" flight data processing and display for air traffic controllers, is known as the Extended Computer Display System, or EXCDS. This is the third control tower in the U.K. to implement EXCDS, following Stansted and Gatwick, with Heathrow to come online next spring.

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EXCDS was also sold to Naviair, the Danish air navigation service provider, earlier this year for Copenhagen Airport. UK NATS will also soon be implementing a new oceanic air traffic control system that was developed with assistance from NAV CANADA and was based on the Gander Automated Air Traffic System (GAATS) in use at the area control centre in Gander, Newfoundland.

At the same time, NAV CANADA is moving to a new satellite-based technology for air traffic surveillance known as Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B), focusing initially on Canada's North. Six
ADS-B ground stations will be installed on the Hudson Bay shoreline providing surveillance covering 250,000 square nautical miles of airspace that sees some 35,000 flights per year.

Direct controller-pilot voice communications will also be deployed as a complement to ADS-B. There is currently no radar coverage in this area, with limited communications capability. "The initial deployment, representing an investment of $10 million, promises to reduce customer costs through more flexible and fuel-efficient flight routes," Crichton said.

ADS-B will be implemented in the Hudson Bay Basin in 2007-2008. Subsequent phases will see ADS-B deployed, along with direct controller-pilot communications, in the rest of Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and Northern B.C., and eventually in the southern domestic airspace as a replacement for or
complement to radar.

Said Crichton: "As we celebrate our 10th anniversary, I want to thank our employees, customers and all of our stakeholders for the work we have done together to keep the aircraft flying more safely than ever before, while providing top-notch service at a reasonable price. There is still a great deal more we can do, and our commitment is to raise the bar even higher over the next 10 years."