Rwanda ups aviation safety

Johannesburg, 17 Mar 2008

The Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has purchased a SITA-manufactured digital data link service for Kigali International Airport.

This will eliminate its reliance on voice communications for digitally-equipped aircraft.

The Digital-ATIS (Air Traffic Information System) and an air-ground data link service will be in place by year-end. It is in line with the International Civil Aviation Organisation's (ICAO's) Comprehensive Regional Implementation Plan for Aviation Safety in Africa, agreed to last September.

"The Digital-ATIS (D-ATIS) system to be installed at Kigali International Airport will enable data link equipped aircraft to receive ATIS information via SITA's Aircom VHF and satellite data link service so that the information will be displayed on cockpit screens or printed on cockpit printers," says Rwanda CAA director-general Joshua Mbaraga.

"This will obviate the need for pilots to tune into dedicated voice ATIS frequencies in the approach phase and having to write down what can often be lengthy messages during the critical phases of the approach," adds Mbaraga.

"In addition to the obvious safety benefit of avoiding mistakes in listening to the traditional voice ATIS broadcasts in the approach phase, the D-ATIS service for Kigali International Airport can be accessed from almost anywhere around the globe via Aircom's global coverage which allows information to be picked up anywhere en route."

SITA (not to be confused with SA's State IT Agency), meanwhile, has almost completed its migration to Internet Protocol service availability across the continent.

"SITA is committed to supporting air navigation infrastructure improvements across the African continent, in line with ICAO's airspace safety plan strategy," says the company's director for air traffic management, Akhil Sharma.

"We applaud the Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority's initiative and foresight to implement D-ATIS and are confident that the service will deliver safety and efficiency benefits as increasing numbers of data link equipped aircraft start to serve Kigali International Airport."

SITA operates over 1 000 VHF data radios across the globe and delivers a satellite service via two ground earth stations that provide access to INMARSAT geostationary satellites. The combined service is used on a daily basis by over 6 000 aircraft, over 180 airlines and 40 air navigation service providers around the world.

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