Upgrading SA’s air traffic control

17 March 2003

A R500-million air traffic control system to be put into operation at Johannesburg International Airport will make South African air space one of the world’s safest.

According to The Citizen newspaper, the new EUROCAT X system will upgrade the aging radar display and processing systems. It will incorporate weather information and will be expanded to control centres nationwide.

The Citizen reports that along with the R500-million South African Advanced Air Traffic System (SAAATS), Air Traffic Control and Navigation Systems (ATNS) – the company responsible for air traffic control in South Africa – will increase the number of air traffic controllers at Johannesburg International by 30% over the next 13 months.

ATNS’s Wrenelle Stander told the Citizen that R250-million would be spent on the SAAATS project. She said SAAATS was aimed at overcoming existing shortcomings and meeting the ever-increasing demand on resources.

The Airports Company of South Africa web site reports that Johannesburg International Airport’s air traffic grows at around 10% annually.

Stander said that ATNS is recruiting 16 foreign air traffic controllers, on 15-month contracts, to the Johannesburg Control Centre to enhance safety and efficiency. “These contract controllers will assist ATNS through our transition to the new SAAATS technology”.

Stander added that the number of South African controllers would be increased from 69 to 96. Sixteen controllers are currently being evaluated and will be on stream by July, while a further 11 will complete their training within the 13-month period.

The benefits of SAAATS to airlines include a reduction of delays due to improved approach sequencing, significant fuel savings, improved coverage and optimised routings in Oceanic sectors.

SouthAfrica.info reporter