The Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC) Air Navigation Committee has hired Helios to develop a detailed study and implementation roadmap to harmonise air traffic management (ATM) provision across the six GCC states.
The Gulf is one of the fastest growing regions in the global aviation industry. The market serves as the home base for large, upcoming airlines such as Emirates, Qatar Airways, and on the back of their growth airports in the region are booming, also benefiting from their growing hub status connecting the West with the far East. A recent report from Oxford Economics for instance found that by 2030 the aviation industry of Dubai will, with adequate expansion, represent a staggering 45% of the state’s GDP, up from 27% of total GDP in 2013.
Similar growth scenarios are applicable for the other Gulf states – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the remainder of the United Arab Emirates – and in order to be ready for the hundreds, if not thousands, of additional aircraft set to flock their skies, the GCC states have joined forces and decided to draft a joint air traffic management approach. Led by the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf Air Navigation Committee, the initiative seeks delivering the additional capacity and improved efficiency necessary to meet increasing demand. “The aim is to progressively harmonise how we deliver ATM across the GCC States, enhancing safety and expanding airspace capacity to accommodate the high traffic growth,” says Ahmed Ali Al-Sayed, chairman of the GCC UFIR Task Force. It also represents the first step towards the ‘seamless’ airspace concept envisaged by the GCC.
To support the project, the Air Navigation Committee has brought Helios on board, a UK based aviation consultancy (headquartered in Farnborough) with an office in Dubai. As part of the deal, Helios consultants will develop a strategy and approach to harmonise air traffic management provision, as well develop an implementation roadmap. The study is planned to last 15 months and will be based around two scenarios. An ‘initial operational’ scenario will focus on increasing interoperability and delivering benefits in the short term by identifying opportunities for developing common standards, operational concepts and improving operational and technical interoperability. A second ‘target operational’ scenario will provide the GCC with a route to increasingly harmonised airspace, CNS/ATM infrastructure and potentially the shared delivery of air traffic services.
The project will be aligned to ICAO’s Aviation System Block Upgrades (ASBU) initiative, and be developed in close cooperation with other national and regional projects, including MID region ATM Enhancement Programme’s (MAEP) MID ATS Route Network Optimisation Project (ARNOP) and MID Region AIM Database (MIDAD).
Hasan Al Ghorabi, Chairman of the GCC Air Navigation Committee, reflects on the partnership with Helios: “This is currently the most important aviation project for the GCC. We are confident that Helios’ local presence and knowledge, combined with its experience in undertaking similar assignments elsewhere in the world, will provide the necessary expertise to support our own dedicated task force with project delivery.”
Alan Corner, head of the Middle East at Helios, says he is “delighted to have been chosen to deliver this high profile project,” adding “We are looking forward to working closely with key stakeholders to consider the detailed arrangements for each scenario. The focus is very much on practical solutions.”