Weekly Review #241 - ATM is a craft, not an industry

Picture of Vincent Lambercy
Posted by Vincent Lambercy
 There are many disciplines involved in ATM and I was lucky enough to go through a lot of them, starting with software development, to requirements engineering, to sales, to leading FoxATM. The amount of advice out there about all of those topics is huge, and there are many examples to follow (or not to follow). But when reading business or engineering advice, there is one thing that ATM people should never forget: the size of the industry. One might think that ATM is an industry like any other, and to some extent it is. There are lots of things we can learn from others, but to me, the real difference is the market size.
With roughly two hundred ANSPs in the world and thousands of airports, the size of this market is small when compared with most B2B or B2C markets. Companies like Apple or Tesla have hundreds of millions of potential customers and therefore can use different strategies and tactics. Not to mention the famous "move fast and break things" motto once attributed to Facebook. None of this applies in the ATM business. No A/B testing, no peer groups, very few market studies, and so on. So you can forget about most of the generic business advice out there.
Actually, ATM is closer to being a handcraft than an industry. All projects contain a significant part of customization and local adaptation and business is largely based on relationships and reputation. In such domains, one buys from persons, and one sells to persons. Organizations play a role, yes, but it is mostly secondary. Teams are small on both sides and even an IT department made of a few hundred people is rare. Development teams are also limited when compared to larger companies operating in larger markets.
If you'd like to continue this discussion and would like to see how to adjust your own organization to this reality, don't hesitate to reply to this email!
Before leaving you to the usual extract of the news we captured this week, don't forget that we have a new episode of our podcast with Jannik Breum of Terma, speaking of SMR and of Terma's engineering philosophy. 


ANSP news

Airport news

Market news

Context information

Research and innovation

  • A new Think Tank Workforce Development- Building the future airport workforce was identified as one of the most important long-term challenges by ENAC Alumni’s The Future of Airports: A Vision of 2040 and 2070. Similar conclusions were drawn by major industry organizations and other research initiatives within other segments of the aerospace industry which are subject to irreversible trends.
  • Aircraft efficiency starts with having the right altitude - SESAR JU- More accurate data on an aircraft’s position can help pilots fly more efficient routes, cutting the fuel consumption and emissions of today’s fleet. The SESAR JU Green-GEAR project aims to quantify the impact of this change, as Tobias Bauer, project coordinator from the German Aerospace Center, explains.
  • Digital European Sky showcased at Transport Research Arena - SESAR JU- The SESAR JU joined forces with fellow transport joint undertakings, to showcase the power of partnership during the Transport Research Arena (TRA), the largest European transport event, which took place between 15-18 April in Dublin.
  • European ATM Master Plan update on the right track, workshop concludes - SESAR JU- On 22-23 April, over 600  stakeholders gathered for a consultation workshop on the European ATM Master Plan update. The aim was to provide a preview of the ideas emerging from the update campaign and gauge support for some key research and deployment activities needed to make Europe the most efficient and environmentally-friendly sky to fly in the world.

Reports and data

  • 17% increase in passengers at Oman airports- Preliminary statistics from the National Center for Statistics and Information indicate that Muscat International Airport handled 3,482,325 passengers, an increase of 17.7%. The airport saw 25,204 flights, up 13.8% by March 2024. These included 23,237 international flights, carrying 3,232,76 passengers, and 1,967 domestic flights, carrying 250,249 passengers.