Chairman's Summary of 1st ECDIS Revolution Conference

by Mike Pearsall, Business Development Manager, ECDIS Ltd

Below is a summary of points made by the chairman, Philip Wake, at the end of the 1st ECDIS Revolution Conference (24-25th November 2010).  Every effort has been made to quote the speaker accurately and amplifying remarks by this author are included in brackets.


  • Generic training is clearly essential; of course it is mandatory now anyway.  General agreement is training should be conducted as soon as possible prior to joining a fitted ship (to avoid skill fade).
  • Type-specific training is also essential.  The debate is who should provide it – manufacturers or onboard?
  • Commonality across presenters is that it takes some months of operating with ECDIS onboard before a ship or operators are comfortable enough to go digital.  Forcing the pace of this is undesirable.
  • The safety and efficiency benefits of going digital came through strongly.  The risks of ECDIS are obvious; operators and the industry must guard against over-reliance.  ECDIS is a navigation aid, “not the be-all and end-all”.
  • There have got to be good procedures in place to standardise operating ECDIS onboard.  (For example, check-off cards)
  • Bearing in mind all of the aforementioned, all available means must be used (reference to IRPCS Rule 7) to maintain safe navigation.  We must avoid “deluge of data” (resulting from too many overlays or inputs).

Questions Raised

  • Is more standardisation necessary across the industry?
  • How will the training requirement be met in time, given the number of mariners to be trained?
  • Are trainers good enough?  Who is training the trainers?
  • What is the electronic backup?  Are visual bearings sufficient?  Is eLORAN or multiple GNSS an option?
  • Do we need an “S(tandard) Mode” button/key to return an ECDIS to default display
  • What are the best means for delivering training and where should it be conducted?  Onboard, i.e. CBT?  Maritime colleges?  Companies?
  • Is CBT (for generic or type-specific training) effective?  How would it be audited?
  • Retention of paper charts: Some say get rid completely, while others say keep in case.  The jury is still out.
  • Alarm management: How do we avoid overloading the watchkeeper?
  • Security issues: How do we guard against viruses, loss of data, etc?
  • Covered over-reliance on ECDIS/GPS, but what about over-reliance on technology and specifically, charts?  In some cases, ENCs are used with the same “ancient” data employed in paper charts.  Navigators need to keep in mind that it is harder to check source data on electronic systems, where they were used to doing so on paper.
  • Pilot’s carry-on systems: Issue of compliance and integration with bridge sensors.  Future conference subject?