Joel Morin has worked in Air Traffic Management for over 40 years. During this period, he has had the good fortune to participate in virtually every aspect of ATM, ranging from low density procedural airspace to high density surveillance operations; tower to en route; manual to automated. Aircraft have evolved from conventionally navigated hand-flown to fully flight managed. The operating paradigm has come from Command and Control to Collaborative.

Over the past several years, he has been invited to lead or speak to a number of international ATM-related seminars and workshops around the world.

Joel Morin's Background

I became an air traffic controller some 40 years ago, when everything was done manually and in our heads. We learned to visualize air traffic mentally, as it was sometimes well beyond radar coverage. When working in radar airspace, aircraft were "slashes" and there were no data tags or computerized symbols.

I worked for a few years in this environment, splitting my duty shifts between working procedural airspace and radar airspace. In the procedural environment, my traffic ranged from managing long range flights operating between Europe and North America, and juggling arrivals and departures at northern airports that got surprisingly busy. In the radar environment, my work consisted of sequencing aircraft in and out of Montreal as well as managing overflying traffic.

As computerized Air Traffic Management (ATM) systems were coming to Canada, there was a need for specialists to oversee the operations of these systems and ensure that they met the needs of the operation. I spent an intense year at Canada's national training institute learning the basics of computers, being trained as a systems analyst, and becoming an expert in radar data processing, flight data processing, communications control systems and operational information display systems. I performed the functions of a Data Systems Coordinator (DSC) for a few months before being recruited to teach new DSCs, which I did for a couple of years.

I returned to Montreal Centre as the Data Systems Manager. As such, I was responsible for the operational management of the ATM automated systems in collaboration with the operations, engineering and technical teams at home and in our national headquarters. I was also responsible for the physical and security aspects of the Area Control Centre.

In 1988, Canada decided to centralize the operations of the Area Control Centres, Terminal Control Units and major Control Towers by having them report directly to the Ottawa headquarters. I joined a small high performing team as a national superintendent. I was initially responsible for the resources and operational planning of this IFR Operations division, where I managed allocations of some 1750 staff and several hundred million dollars in operating and capital budgets. I moved on to functions of management coordination and then System Effectiveness and Operating Practices before the pendulum swung and the units returned to regional management. During this time, I became responsible for the implementation of bilingual air traffic services in the National Capital Region in compliance with the Official Languages Act of Canada.

Once the IFR Operations Division was disbanded, I joined the Airspace and Procedures division where I was responsible for Civil / Military coordination and the tactical allocation of airspace to special uses such as military missions and rocket launches. During that time, it became evident that a national oversight was required to avoid inter-ACC conflicts in Air Traffic Flow Management (ATFM) and to ensure a harmonized flow of traffic through the airspace managed by Canada. I was tasked to develop and operate Canada's first national ATFM coordination unit. This involved learning from and collaboration with many fine ATFM visionaries, including Dave Hurley (who gave his name to the FAA's Air Traffic Control System Command Center) and the European team who was creating the Central Flow Management Unit at the time. During this period, I first learned the great value of collaboration. Not only with other ATC people but with the airlines as well. This was a lesson that I was to carry forward through the rest of my career.

I then accepted an opportunity to further my career by becoming the manager of Canada's Air Traffic Services Research & Experimentation Centre. This position consisted in managing Canada's ATC R&D efforts and supporting Canada's service delivery through Fast and Real Time simulations and other analytical tools. I oversaw and led several airport and airspace improvement projects, including a major redesign of Canadian High Level Airspace, involving Canadian and foreign customers. I also represented Canada to the PHARE and FAA/ EUROCONTROL Research & Development (R&D) Committee activities. I was always being tasked with special projects. Two project highlights were leading the Air Navigation team responsible for developing policies, procedures and systems to manage the collection of ATC charges, and participating in the government team supporting the transition from a government-run air navigation system to the one operated by a Non Share Capital Corporation (NAV CANADA).

Having maintained a keen interest in ATFM, I was asked to deploy to the Edmonton ACC for a few months to manage the flow of air traffic through this strategic airspace as there were operational problems resulting from a chronic shortage of controllers. It was a pleasure to return to my operational roots and a few months turned into a few years as I completed my ATC career as an operational manager in that ACC. During this challenging and rewarding period, the importance and value of Collaborative Decision Making and Air Traffic Flow Management were with me every day as we managed a wide variety of traffic types through every class of airspace.

Following my retirement from NAV CANADA, I joined the International Air Transport Association (IATA) in its headquarters as the de facto ATM subject matter expert, providing advice, support and guidance to airlines and IATA staff. This crowning period allowed me to leverage all my experience and expertise to a global scale. For over 5 years, I acted as an ATM ambassador to airlines and an airline ambassador to ATM. Listing all the activities and accomplishments would be excessive. Participating in most ATM-related ICAO expert panels, being involved in strategic discussions regarding airspace, traffic flows and contingency plans and having participated in the drafting of a few ICAO guidance material documents rank among my fond recollections.

© 2017 Joel Morin