Thank you, Madam Chair, and members of the committee.
First of all, I'd like to say thank you for inviting Nav Canada to appear before the committee as part of your study on aviation safety.
Nav Canada is a private company that for more than 20 years has owned and operated Canada's civil air navigation system. We provide air traffic control and advisory services and other related services to pilots. We own the radar and other surveillance technology that enable us to monitor the skies and the navigational aids that help guide aircraft.
We train and employ more than 4,700 air traffic controllers, flight service specialists, technologists, and engineers who support the system. We build air traffic management systems here in Canada, many of which have been sold around the world, including to London's Heathrow, and the Dubai airport.
I started my career as an air traffic controller 40 years ago and and I have had the opportunity to see many important safety-related changes to the aviation industry. In my current role as the vice-president of safety and quality at Nav Canada, I am responsible for our safety management program, which provides internal safety oversight of the management of operational risk as required by the Canadian aviation regulations.
At Nav Canada we often say that safety is our only product. This speaks to the focus of our robust safety culture.
We benchmark our safety performance against other countries, and I'm glad to report that we are among the highest safety performing ANSPs in the world.
The key to our safety record has been a strong focus on developing a training culture and investing heavily in infrastructure and new technologies.
Controller-pilot datalink communications, or CPDLC, is one of those technologies. CPDLC enables air traffic controllers and pilots to communicate through text-like messages. Since the technology's successful implementation in 2012, the number of domestic CPDLC messages has grown to well over 500,000 per month.
This reduces radio frequency congestion and the chance of communication errors, ensuring that pilots and air traffic controllers are able to communicate in the clearest and safest possible manner.
Weather cameras are another innovation that was not in use years ago. Nav Canada has deployed aviation weather cameras at 192 sites across the county, which contribute to safety by enabling pilots and dispatchers to verify local weather conditions.
Another innovation that will truly be transformational for the industry is the much-anticipated launch of space-based automatic dependent surveillance broadcast, or ADS-B. This technology will enable air traffic control entities to track aircraft from low earth orbiting satellites, giving us reach over the world's oceans and remote regions, with significant safety and efficiency benefits. This groundbreaking system, of which Nav Canada is a majority owner, is progressing towards the start of full operations in 2018.
Just as important as our investment in innovation and technology is our investment in our own people. Humans create safety. This is why we've put a major focus on human performance as well as the deployment of controller decision support tools.
An example of one of these tools is our Canadian automated air traffic system, known as CAATS. It is one of the world's most advanced flight data processing systems and is the foundation of Nav Canada's air traffic management system.
These systems allow our controllers to plan, to see, and to resolve potential conflict as far out as 20 minutes in advance, improving the efficiency and safety of the air space they are responsible for managing. We rely on the performance of our people to innovate, to provide world-leading services, to develop and deploy new safety and efficiency-enhancing technologies and procedures, and to create and maintain important safety infrastructure.
Focusing on the human element has allowed us to continually improve our safety record.
Safety is the first priority, not just of Nav Canada, but also across all functions and all members of the aviation community, and knowledge and best practices should always be shared. Collaborative initiatives across the industry therefore represent both a key component of our commitment to safety and a tangible aspect of our plan to continue to improve it.