The Joint Technical Committee Highlights – Jan 2021

The Joint Technical Committee (JTC) is a working group made up of NAV Canada managers and IBEW members and includes union representation.

IBEW Collective Agreement LOU 16-14 defines terms of reference for the JTC and here is the group’s stated purpose:

The purpose of these terms of reference is to establish a joint IBEW/NAV CANADA standing committee constituted to provide a strategic overview to the union and its members on innovations in the technology used to operate and maintain the ANS, with specific emphasis on the technology used by the ANS-TEC. Through this committee IBEW members will be provided with an opportunity to discuss and explore how the future ANS technology plans affect their role in NAV CANADA.

As part of its mandate, the JTC has been influential in promoting content for Core Knowledge, requirements for Equipment Task Analysis (ETA) and helping to identify new areas of training as we move our technologists into the 21st century.  The JTC also oversees and reviews the Technologist development, competency/retention and certification programs, and is currently working with the Competency Review Workgroup tasked with merging the former EPD and TechOPS competency programs into a new and comprehensive package that aligns with the vision of the new Technology Services organization.

This year’s first JTC meeting was held on January 26 & 27 and for the first time ever it was virtual.  The 2-day session was packed with information and included discussions on the following topics:

NAVAIDS Modernization Plan (NMP) – An update was provided on the company’s efforts to strategically upgrade VORs and redeploy some NDB and VORs, and decommissioning plans for NDBs and VORs as we further advance the adoption of SATNAV within the industry.

Technology Organization – Provided an overview of the new organization and leadership and addressed ongoing issues as it relates to, finances and workload capacities.

Trajectory Based Operations (TBO) – Highlighted the company’s plans to move us into a new era of ATC as we envision what the airspace will look like in the future where we add future time markers into flight planning. The way air traffic is controlled is changing and NAV Canada plans to be at the forefront of any new technology.

ATM Solutions – A review of the new organizational structure, our partnership with other ANSPs and the overarching priorities for FY21.   As older systems are phased out and replaced with new ones, the architecture will be designed as microservices to allow these new services to be dropped into other systems as needed.  These new building blocks will help transition existing systems into the new world of TBO.  ATM solutions will also provide technology development for the Business Development team as they continue their pursuits of major commercial contracts around the world.

CNS Solutions – Restrictions surrounding COVID continues to impact our ability to delivery on Capital projects and projects are being realigned to reflect the new reality.  Some projects including ACD, RTIM ED 137, UAV for flight check inspections and the Calgary ASDE antenna change have been cancelled. 

ANSIR – One of the highest priorities for CNS in the coming year will be to implement the new ANS Integrated Recorder System (ANSIR) as the current model of NICE DVLs are at their end of life.

Space Based ADS-B – The system is up and running, and it has allowed us to decommission the Hudson Bay ADS-B systems and plans are to also shut down systems along the East Greenland coastlines. ADS-B is now being integrated into the day to day operations of our ACCs.

TSR – Replacements will continue and are expected to extend over the next 10 years.  The first system slated to come online in Ottawa is currently on hold due to the current travel limitations for the European supplier.

Digital Facility – Trials continue in Red Deer and Saint John and the company is now working with TC to get approval for these types of facilities to go live in Canada.

Digital Twins – We’ve been hearing a lot about Digital Twins over the past few years. By definition, a Digital Twin is a virtual replica of a real asset, system or process.  In the ANS environment, the plan is to build a Digital Twin of the Canadian airspace (or portions) to allow simulations to take place thus allowing controls and processes to be optimized.  The ability to get answers to “what-if’s” will speed the transition to more efficient controls as we transition in the future to TBO.  Other ANSPs including Finland, Australia and National Air Traffic Services (NATS – UK’s Air Navigation Service Provider) are already using or looking to develop their own Digital Twins.

ANS Technology Infrastructure – Key strategies of this department will be to implement data center and network consolidations, workstation management and the role of information monitoring and distribution.  The goal is to provide a common infrastructure in support of NC’s ANS service and business users. We have started our transition into a digital workplace with the introduction of Microsoft Teams.  NC is moving to match what other large organizations are doing to manage data and storage and, in the future, there will be a hybrid approach that includes public and private clouds mixed in with internal and external data centers. Cyber security continues to be at the forefront of all our decisions and as we transition to new platforms, we will look for ways to exploit cloud security solutions to meet the need of existing and future cloud services.

ANS Technology: Training/Competency Priorities – The training department continues to explore and innovate new and exciting ways to deliver training to the field technologists.  The aim is to offer leadership and support during these challenging times, and they are currently exploring ways to change and transform training to ensure that we continue to have a competent workforce ready and able to support our ANS.  Going forward, technology training will continue to be delivered online where it makes sense and they are also piloting virtual reality (VR) competency retention activities for the field.

Introduction to Aviation - A new training package is being developed and will be offered to our new recruits. ­­

Air Traffic Safety Electronics Personnel (ATSEP) Training – ICAO is reviewing a proposed change to ATSEP mandatory training, and IBEW is recommending that NAV Canada become familiar with the content so that relevant topics can be integrated into our training for new hires.

Technologist Competency Program (TCP) - As alluded to earlier, the Technologist Competency Program is undergoing a review with the end goal being that of having a new program that will develop a TEC-0 through the first 3 levels and on to a working level TEC-1.  Under the new mandate, a technologist getting to TEC-1 will be able to maintain and also install some of the systems that they have been deemed competent on.  The goal is to have this new program ready to go for a late spring or early summer roll-out.

The road ahead is filled with exciting and new opportunities as we change and align our technology and workplace to support the vision of the company and the role of the Technologist will in some cases change to support the new systems and environment.


“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”