It has also been a defining moment for aviation’s key players, both in terms of how we’ve come together to ride out this challenge – and the work that’s still left to be done. It is clear we each have our roles, but our pathways are intrinsically linked, and the more we can do to navigate this journey together, the stronger we will be at the other end.
This year marks 100 years of aviation (the world’s first air traffic control tower was commissioned by the UK government, heralding the start of mass air travel), so it is ironic that at a time when we would have been celebrating the amazing growth of the industry and the benefits it delivers, we have been left wondering what our future holds. There’s no doubt that air travel will remain an important part of our global infrastructure, but with dramatic fluctuations in traditional passenger demand coupled with the rapid rise of new airspace users like drones and commercial space vehicles, we are seemingly entering into a new era for aviation. One which will break the mould of the past and introduce new players into the mix.
When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit earlier in the year, it rewrote the plot for people and organisations worldwide. For air traffic management (ATM), and the aviation industry it serves, it was a twist like no other. Having navigated a decade of dramatic growth in every region in the world, we were suddenly faced with empty screens, vacant lounges and quiet skies as air traffic plummeted by some 80%.