IATA promotes satellite navigation in Africa

Staff Writer
By Staff Writer, ITWeb
Johannesburg, 13 Dec 2006

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is holding a six-day roadshow across sub-Saharan Africa to promote the use of the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) for flight guidance.

GNSS procedures, which make use of satellite technology to guide aircraft during flight, are designed to enhance safety, reduce costs and improve efficiency, says IATA spokesman Linden Birns.

Birns adds that the exercise, which is part of a five-year project undertaken by IATA to implement the use of GNSS globally, will involve 13 airports in eight countries across Southern and Eastern Africa.

"Traditional ground-based navigation systems are limited by topography, weather, equipment serviceability and power supply. They are also expensive to install and maintain. GNSS is not constrained by any of these factors," Birns says.

It uses global positioning system (GPS) technology to provide accurate guidance in remote and oceanic areas where ground-based navigation systems are costly or impractical to install, he explains. Even in areas well served by ground-based systems, GNSS allows aircraft to follow more efficient flight paths, reducing delays, saving time, fuel and cutting associated engine emissions.

Implementation issues

"With all of these benefits in mind, IATA launched a project in 2001, funded by its member airlines, to help Southern African Development Community states design and implement GNSS instrument approach and departure procedures. GNSS-based procedures have been developed for 37 aerodromes in 17 African states. However, to date only two states (Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo) have published the procedures without operational restrictions," Birns adds.

During the exercise, a team of specialists and flight crew will visit the 13 airports flying the GNSS procedures and smooth out any implementation issues with local authorities and air traffic control personnel. The intention is to have GNSS procedures fully implemented at all 13 airports during the first quarter of 2007, he says.

The airports involved are Maun and Gaborone, in Botswana; Kinshasa and Lubumbashi, in the DRC; Blantyre and Lilongwe, in Malawi; Windhoek, in Namibia; Mahe, in the Seychelles; Dar-es-Salaam and Kilimanjaro, in Tanzania; Livingstone and Lusaka, in Zambia; and Entebbe, in Uganda.

IATA represents 250 airlines comprising 94% of international scheduled air traffic, Birns says.