Nav Canada

Taking Innovation to New Heights




As Featured In:

As the country’s air navigation service provider, NAV CANADA safely tracks and guides aircraft from across the globe through Canadian airspace—among the busiest in the world. Our role begins well before takeoff and continues right up to arrival. Driving safety through service, NAV CANADA delivers the air navigation services that customers, stakeholders, and the flying public depend on every single day.

NAV CANADA is a private, not-for-profit company that operates from coast to coast to coast. In Canada, we’re a unique and an integral part of the aviation ecosystem.

“Since we were established in 1996, we’ve invested $2.4 billion in our facilities and technologies—the infrastructure we use to manage 18 million square kilometres of airspace,” said Neil Wilson, NAV CANADA President and Chief Executive Officer. “That investment has led to first-class, award-winning solutions, and standards that benefit Canada and the world, delivering landmark breakthroughs to civil aviation.”

“Our success at designing, developing, implementing and maintaining a state-of-the-art air navigation system comes through our collaborations. Together with airports, airlines, industry organizations, and other air navigation service providers (ANSPs) around the globe, we have made groundbreaking advances in air traffic management technology and airspace modernization, improving safety, performance, reliability, cost effectiveness, and efficiency.”

Canada First

We are the first fully privatized civil ANSP in the world. While most civil air navigation systems are government-owned and -operated, our unique corporate governance model enables us to be service-oriented and customer-focused. It also ensures greater independence between Canada’s civil aviation operator and regulator. NAV CANADA’s dynamic approach to governance is matched by our service delivery, and our in-house development and deployment of cutting-edge technology.

Our eye for innovation has extended beyond Canadian borders, looking to joint initiatives with international businesses. We’ve sold many of our technology solutions to other ANSPs, including electronic flight data, surveillance and operational information displays, and airfield lighting and control systems. To date, our tools have been deployed at more than 100 sites worldwide, operating on 1,600 controller workstations. Our performance sets industry standards for safety, operational efficiency, and environmental responsibility, helping to streamline flight routes, reduce aircraft noise, and reduce civil aviation’s carbon footprint. It’s our responsibility—and our honour—to lead the way in shaping the air navigation system, in Canada and around the world.

A Reputation for Innovation

NAV CANADA is renowned as an innovator. Our pioneering developments continue to improve the air navigation industry, offering better surveillance, communication, and predictability than ever before. We’re proud to highlight some of our key innovations.

Transforming the Aviation Ecosystem

Space-Based ADS-B
NAV CANADA is an investor in and early supporter of Aireon, along with Iridium Satellite Communications. Other ANSPs from the UK, Ireland, Italy, and Denmark later followed suit. As the first-ever completely global air traffic service surveillance system, Aireon uses a space-based automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) receiver network to track flights worldwide. It represents the most transformational change in air navigation since the advent of radar.

Aireon service extends air traffic surveillance to the 70% of the globe that was not covered by ground-based surveillance—mountains, remote regions and oceans. With Aireon, ADS-B receivers have been installed on a constellation of 66 Iridium satellites, providing unprecedented tracking that enables the industry to reduce separation between aircraft without compromising safety, and to deliver more direct, efficient routes. The savings in time, money, and fuel are significant: estimates show that space-based ADS-B could decrease greenhouse gas emissions by more than 14 million metric tonnes over a 10-year period.

Optimizing Air Navigation

Air Traffic Management (ATM) Technologies
“NAV CANADA’s ATM technology was brought in-house, to the hands of our innovative employees, and the results have been outstanding,” said Rudy Kellar, Executive Vice President, Service Delivery. “Our tools and solutions have contributed immensely to gains in safety and performance throughout the air navigation industry.” Implementing the Canadian Automated Air Traffic System (CAATS)—a state-of-the-art flight data processing system—across the country was a critical achievement in continuing to modernize Canada’s air navigation system.

Its features were revolutionary when it was first deployed in Moncton, New Brunswick, in 2005; the system was fully rolled out across Canada by 2010. CAATS takes all information related to aircraft flight plans and actual position and presents it electronically to controllers. The system also automates handoffs between Air Traffic Control jurisdictions. This crucial integration of information has empowered NAV CANADA’s employees to manage increased traffic more effectively and efficiently. Since its cross-country installation, CAATS continues to evolve, with further functionality and safety-net tools added, enhancing the controllers’ ability to respond to growing air traffic demands.

Most recently, we launched our next-generation surveillance data processing system called Fusion. It provides air traffic controllers with more complete and accurate data on aircraft positions by merging all available forms of surveillance data—including Aireon—directly to controller display screens. This data Fusion system will enable important new safety-net features, including short-term conflict alert, which sounds alarms on controller displays in the event of potential separation loss.

With Fusion, NAV CANADA remains ahead of the curve. Our leading-edge system complies with the latest international regulatory standards, and will bring considerable safety and efficiency benefits for the industry.

Reducing Fuel Costs and Emissions

Performance-Based Navigation: Established on RNP-AR (EoR)
Innovation in air navigation services encompasses more than technology. It extends to new airspace procedures and design, moving beyond sensor-based navigation to reflect the full range of factors that impact each flight. Performance-based navigation (PBN) is quickly becoming the world standard for aircraft navigation. NAV CANADA is dedicated to exploring how PBN can enable aircraft to take shorter routes, reducing flight times to enhance the traveller experience, and cut fuel costs, greenhouse  gas emissions, and aircraft noise.

One of our most recent PBN initiatives is Established on Required Navigation Performance—Authorization Required (EoR), a new separation standard that safely enables simultaneous arrivals on parallel runways without requiring a separation minimum of 1,000 feet vertically or three nautical miles laterally (the current conventional standard). We introduced EoR at the Calgary International Airport in November 2018, making NAV CANADA the first ANSP to implement a new ICAO standard.

EoR was designed to significantly improve how air traffic is managed and integrated, and to enable quieter continuous descent operations. In its inaugural year, there were over 35,000 RNP-AR approaches flown, with an incredible reduction of more than 250,000 nautical miles of power-on, low-altitude flight over Calgary. This also amounts to a decrease of more than 4.1 million kgs of CO2 emissions. By the end of 2020, EoR is expected to yield an estimated $132 million CAD in avoided fuel costs. And flying time for customers has declined by four to five hours per day—more than 1,400 hours per year.


Mission statement: To be a world leader in the provision of safe, efficient, and cost-effective air navigation services on a sustainable basis while providing a professional and fulfilling work environment for our employees. We’re proud to be an award-winning company in service delivery and technology development. We also value our reputation as a leading employer: for the past four years, we’ve been one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers, and have been included on Forbes’ list of Canada’s Best Employers.


  • 18 million km² airspace managed by NAV CANADA
  • 3.3 million flights handled each year
  • 40,000 customers: airlines, air cargo operators, air charter operators, air taxis, business and general aviation, helicopter operators
  • 5,000 employees across the country


IFR-to-IFR losses of separation measures aircraft flying under instrument flight rules (IFR) whereby less than the authorized separation existed or in which the minimum was not assured. “Separation” is the international measure of flight safety—maintaining safe distance between two aircraft to reduce the risk of collision. All ANSPs must keep a record of separation losses, known as “IFR-to-IFR losses of separation per one million IFR flight hours.” NAV CANADA has one of the world’s lowest rates of IFR-to-IFR losses of separation.


In 1998, the first “glass tower” opened at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport. The NAV CANADA–developed extended computer display system (EXCDS) replaced paper-based flight data strips with touchscreen-accessible electronic strips, enhancing safety by minimizing errors and enabling controllers to work more efficiently. EXCDS has evolved to become a fully integrated suite of tools and has expanded its reach to every tower and flight service station in Canada, as well as to sites in the UK, Caribbean, Australia, Denmark, Italy, India, Dubai, and Hong Kong.

Other INNOVATE® Ecosystems