Modernising SA’s air traffic networks

29 May 2013

South Africa’s Air Traffic Navigation Services Company (ATNS) and French multinational aerospace technology firm Thales have signed several contracts in a partnership to modernise the country’s air traffic networks.

ATNS is the sole provider of air traffic, navigation, training and associated services in South Africa and is also responsible for air traffic control for about 10% of the world’s airspace.

It currently operates at 22 aerodromes around the country, including OR Tambo, Cape Town and King Shaka International Airports

Thales will replace the current air traffic navigation services management systems with the Thales TopSky-ATC (air traffic control) system, as well as install the newest Thales 970s radars at ATNS’s Wakkerstroom, Potgieterus and Rhodes radar sites.

Under the agreements, Thales will also provide maintenance and support for all existing ATNS radar sensors and the TopSky-ATC systems used by the Air Traffic Navigation Services Company.

“South Africa is emerging as one of the fastest growing and complex air traffic management regions in the continent,” Thales South Africa chief executive officer, Patrick Oszczeda, said in a statement last week.

In the last 10 years African air traffic has increased dramatically, with South Africa being one of the busiest airspaces on the continent.

It is necessary to improve management, advance technologies and modernise systems as a result.

“This technology acquisition will allow ATNS to deploy a truly future-proofed technology capable of not only dealing with the issues and challenges of Africa today, but also capable of growing and adapting as the airspace becomes more complex,” Oszczeda said.

The two organisations are also exploring further partnerships to unlock growth and development opportunities in South Africa.

“In delivering services to our customers and stakeholders, technology infrastructure and innovation play an important role in ensuring that we are able to do so,” said acting CEO of ATNS, Thabani Mthiyane.

“It was therefore important for ATNS to select a partner that will not only provide enabling technology but will work with ATNS in ensuring that internal technology innovation capacity and capability is strengthened for the purpose of long-term joint development and cooperation.

“This will further benefit the know-how and skills related to air traffic management in South Africa as a whole, especially in the area of technology transfer and management,” Mthiyane said.

SAinfo reporter