Our vision of how to integrate new vehicles into the air transport system

Future Airspace

Eduardo Garcia Gonzalez, CANSO Manager European ATM Coordination and Safety, explores how a unique cross-industry collaboration is driving the development of an industry-first global vision and approach for managing new, emerging and future airspace users.

We are now entering a new, exciting era for aviation in which the speed of change and rate of innovation will be faster than they have been for decades.

A wide range of vehicles are already – or soon will be – taking to the sky, including small drones, air taxis, new commercial aircraft designs, space flights, supersonic and ultra-long-haul flights, and we need to be ready for this.

The rise of new airspace users is exponential, and will continue to climb as new applications and requirements drive demand. Safely accommodating new airspace users into our sky, without congestion or increased delay, will require new ways of thinking and increased collaboration among the broader aviation community.

As a sector we need to act collectively in order to mobilise all the players in the community and help build our future complete air transport system together. Of course, this is easier said than done – but I am confident we are already making great progress.

In March, CANSO launched the Complete Air Traffic System (CATS) Global Council – a unique innovation forum which brings together leaders from more than 25 organisations across the manned and unmanned aviation industries. This includes air navigation service providers (ANSPs), UAS Traffic Management (UTM) service providers, aircraft manufacturers, drone operators and manufacturers, hightech companies, airlines, airports, regulatory authorities, space agencies and research bodies.

Future sky vision

The goals of this innovation forum are to drive the next era of aviation and forge a more adaptable, resilient industry; to explore, imagine and shape a shared vision for how our global skies can innovate and interoperate safely in the future, and to lead the way, enabling all aviation and aerospace players to learn, evolve and advance so that they are fit for this exciting future.

We are delighted to be able to count leaders from NASA, ICAO, IATA, ACI, Boeing, Airbus, Wing, Altitude Angel and across the ATM industry as members of our Council. We are grateful they are sharing their insight and honoured to be working together to create this industry-first common vision for the total traffic management for every airborne vehicle. The CATS Global Council has made great progress already, and will be sharing the vision during the World ATM Congress 2021 in October.

The vision is being crafted with a collection of operating principles at its core. These principles address the futurefacing features, behaviours and practices that are critical to achieve the fully integrated airspace system we aspire to. These are as follows.


Digitisation, location-independent operators and automated airspace management will ensure the entire sector can scale operations up or down according to user needs, hazardous events and user demand.


The cooperation and interconnectedness of diverse operators is essential for a fully integrated, harmonised sky.


The entire airspace system, from design to operation, is dynamic in nature. Such flexibility needs to be built-in to enable airspace infrastructure, management and users to adapt to diverse vehicle performance and growth of traffic.


Aviation will take a leading role in reducing emissions across the global transport network. The future airspace system will also require longevity to ensure that innovations are efficient, resourceful and future proof.

The path ahead

The CATS Global Council does not plan to stop here and will continue working to develop a roadmap to achieve our shared vision that everyone will be able to rally around. We aim to finalise a first version of the roadmap by spring 2022.

In the meantime, we look forward to extending Council membership to include further parties that will support us in turning the vision into reality, and welcome organisations from across the industry who wish to join us.

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