It is appropriate that the theme of this week's World Air Traffic Management Congress 2014 in Madrid is “delivery,” as the Civil Air Navigation Services Organization (Canso) will be reporting back on the commitments it made to its industry partners at last year's session.

At that event, Canso asked the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and its industry partners what they expect from the ATM industry. They made a series of requests and proposals, which were then shaped by Canso into a comprehensive set of actions, with measurable deliverables, to improve the performance of ATM globally. Canso committed to take action in three broad areas: safety, operations and policy. We promised to report back on these commitments, and we shall do so in a document to be published this month.

On safety, the industry's top priority, we worked with industry partners to launch the Runway Safety Initiative in June 2013. This provides a runway safety checklist for airports and air navigation service providers as well as key tips for pilots and air traffic controllers. We have also recently released two publications that will yield major contributions to enhancing ATM safety.

Canso's Standard on Common Safety Methods on Risk Evaluation and Assessments for air navigation service providers (ANSPs) is a vital tool to standardize their risk evaluation and assessments. Canso's Standard of Excellence in Safety Management Systems is a tool to measure SMS evolution from basic ICAO Annex 19 compliance to a mature safety management system. Canso is preparing a statement on “Commitment to Just Culture,” so its staff members feel secure that their organization will treat them justly and fairly when they report safety mistakes and errors. In addition, we are exploring options for a Canso Safety Certificate.

In the operations area, following the approval of ICAO's Global Air Navigation Plan in November, we are focusing on the implementation of the ICAO Aviation System Block Upgrades (ASBUs). As support for their implementation, we have recently launched a guide that provides a comprehensive explanation of the initiative as well as tips on implementation; and we have launched a training course. Around the globe, Canso is working with industry partners on issues such as service priority, the rollout of performance-based navigation, continuous climb-and-descent operations, airport-collaborative decision-making and air traffic flow management. These and many other initiatives, which come under the ASBU umbrella, will help us take steps toward achieving seamless airspace globally.

Canso has also been active on environmental issues. It has published documents that suggest best practices on minimizing and measuring the environmental impact of air transport, as well as guidance on assessing noise.

On the policy side, Canso is making steady progress toward airspace harmonization. Canso has played a full role and influenced the outcomes of some important policy developments during the past year, including ICAO's Global Air Navigation Plan and Global Aviation Safety Plan. The Canso initiative for better regulation is being promoted through representations to governmental organizations, speeches, articles and other means. Canso continues to work hard to persuade countries that harmonization of airspace is not incompatible with sovereignty.

It is pleasing that these and other commitments have either already been delivered or are making good progress, thanks to impressive work by many representatives of Canso members. The commitments vary from those with short-term timeframes for completion—such as guidance and best practices on important issues such as runway safety, ASBU implementation and Just Culture—to those that will take many years to complete such as military-civil cooperation and better regulation. This is only natural given that the ATM industry is long-term; complex and diverse technically, geographically, culturally and in terms of maturity; and follows different business models and regulatory frameworks. Many of the commitments require the support and commitment of third parties including industry partners and states.

Canso will continue to work with other stakeholders to deliver on its commitments, through Vision 2020 and the associated Canso Work Plan. The Canso commitments from World ATM Congress 2013 were all incorporated into Vision 2020, which provides the first strategic framework for the ATM industry. It is supported by the Canso Work Plan, which captures 126 supporting activities planned at global and regional levels, each with detailed actions, deliverables and timescales. Canso is committed to delivery and will continue to provide updates on progress.

Jeff Poole is director general of the Civil Air Navigation Services Organization.