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Real-time monitoring for SA's airspace

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ATNS will have 100% air traffic surveillance of the Johannesburg Flight Information Region (FIR) and the Cape Town FIR.
ATNS will have 100% air traffic surveillance of the Johannesburg Flight Information Region (FIR) and the Cape Town FIR.

Air Traffic and Navigation Services (ATNS), SA's air navigation service provider, has signed a data services agreement with Aireon, a global provider of space-based global air traffic surveillance systems.

Through the agreement, ATNS will have 100% air traffic surveillance of the Johannesburg Flight Information Region (FIR) and the Cape Town FIR, which cover approximately 10% of the world's airspace.

This will be done through Aireon's satellite-based Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) service, scheduled to be operational in 2018.

ATNS is a South African state-owned company established in 1993 in terms of the ATNS Company Act to provide air traffic management solutions and associated services on behalf of the state.

According to ATNS, today, over 70% of the world's airspace is outside of any real-time air traffic surveillance, limiting it to mainly terrestrial and densely populated areas.

This leaves the vast majority of remote, oceanic and mountainous regions without any real-time aircraft monitoring, it adds. ATNS has decided to implement space-based ADS-B to enable real-time visibility throughout its airspace.

The navigation services provider says increased visibility, coupled with real-time air traffic surveillance, improves both the safety and efficiency of air travel and gives air traffic control the ability to optimise airspace with more accurate, predicable data.

"Aireon is providing the global air transport industry with a vital piece of technology that will greatly enhance air traffic management," says Thabani Mthiyane, CEO of ATNS.

"Much of Africa is currently without any air traffic surveillance. Aireon's service will give us visibility into many regions, allowing us to facilitate seamless transitions between air traffic control providers. This will be achieved without any additional ground infrastructure and utilising currently mandated on-board avionics.

Mthiyane points out that once Aireon's service is operational in 2018, ATNS' increased area of surveillance will allow the company to work with its African neighbours to improve safety and air traffic efficiency across this region of the world.

"ATNS demonstrates exceptional regional and global leadership in air traffic control. Their foresight to invest in a long-term solution to solve the issues of global air traffic surveillance will be welcomed across the African continent. We welcome ATNS as a launch customer and look forward to collaborating on the deployment of space-based ADS-B in the African region," says Don Thoma, CEO of Aireon.

ATNS signed the data services agreement on the heels of the International Telecommunication Union adopting a resolution for primary spectrum allocation of the 1 090MHz frequency band for use by satellite-based ADS-B.

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