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Singapore advances ATC safety with new handbook at IFATCA conference

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At the 63rd IFATCA Conference in Singapore, Senior Minister Dr. Amy Khor highlighted initiatives to bolster ATC safety culture amid growing air travel.

Air traffic control (ATC) professionals will need to continue to build a positive safety culture, encourage innovation, and attract and develop talents to support the growth of air travel. Singapore Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment, and Ministry of Transport, Dr Amy Khor, said this in her opening address to over 400 ATC professionals, member associations, and industry stakeholders from around the world who are gathered in Singapore this week for the 63rd International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers’ Associations (IFATCA) Annual Conference.

ATC professionals ensure that each day, more than 100,000 flights worldwide can operate safely. The number is expected to increase with the robust growth in air travel around the world, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region. ATC organisations are stepping up training and recruitment and investing in technology and innovation to support ATC professionals and meet the rise in demand. Themed “Invest in People. The Future of Air Traffic Management”, the 63rd international conference brings together ATC leaders from around the world to address common challenges and share best practices. Held from 15 to 19 April 2024, the conference is organised by IFATCA and hosted by the Air Traffic Control Association Singapore (ATCA-S).

In her opening address, Dr Amy Khor announced that the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) will be publishing a Singapore Aviation Sector Safety Culture Handbook in May 2024 to strengthen safety culture in Singapore aviation. The handbook recognises that the building of a strong safety culture requires deliberate and active intervention by leadership and management at every level and in every part of the organisation, in close partnership with operational staff. Tailored to Singapore’s operating context, the guidance in the handbook is applicable to aviation companies and professions, including ATC, pilots and engineers.

Safety culture is shaped by many factors such as organisation structures, socio-cultural norms, communication styles and team The handbook explores these areas and provides practical guidance for strengthening safety culture, including “Do’s and Don’ts” and case studies. For example, it is important for organisations to strengthen processes to address new safety risks that may arise from an increase in air travel volume, changes in weather patterns and route adjustments. The handbook encourages management to thoroughly evaluate the effectiveness and necessity of new operational procedures before implementation. Operational staff are encouraged to work with management on the design and implementation of these procedures and to give feedback if procedures are impractical, instead of ignoring or circumventing them.

The Singapore Aviation Sector Safety Culture Handbook is developed based on the findings of the Singapore Aviation Sector Safety Culture Survey conducted by CAAS last year and subsequent focus group discussions with management. The survey showed that the Singapore aviation sector has a positive safety culture but more can be done to strengthen trust between management and operational staff and foster a positive safety culture amongst all aviation workers, particularly new entrants who joined the aviation sector.

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