A Paperless Air Traffic System Has Many Fans

Issue 04-25-16   |   Reviewer:   Michael S. Raisinghani, Ph.D.


Air-traffic computer systems are among the world’s most complex software programs, and difficult to develop. NAV CANADA, the country’s flight-control operator, began 18 years ago to replace the paper strips with a computerized system that it now sells around the world. It generated C$135 million ($105 million) over the past five years exporting its products. NAV CANADA’s new technology system, known as iSign, allows controllers to log into work and receive pre-shift briefings on an iPad, replacing sign-in sheets and binder books. The system was rolled out in 2015, and the company hopes to sell it to airports and other aviation clients.

NAV CANADA’s ability to adopt new technology can be attributed to several factors. They have involved controllers throughout the process, which helps with design and testing. If an off-the-shelf product exists that meets their needs, they don’t bother building it in-house. And they work on manageable, small improvements rather than the moon-shot projects that are typical for air-traffic providers.

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