ATNS selects Thales to provide radars, equipment to modernise air traffic management


South Africa’s air navigation service provider Air Traffic and Navigation Services (ATNS) has selected Thales to supply radar systems and distance measuring equipment (DME) to several sites in the country in an effort to keep up with South Africa’s growing air traffic.

Thales on Wednesday announced that it will supply Wide Area Multilateration (WAM), Star NG (Next Generation) primary radars and RSM 970 secondary radars. The WAM system will be deployed to provide surveillance over the entire Northern region of South Africa. Radars will be deployed to Johannesburg O.R. Tambo International Airport, Cape Town, Durban and Blesberg in KwaZulu-Natal.

These surveillance systems will be integrated into ATNS’s existing Thales TopSky Air Traffic Management System.

Thales added that DME systems will be deployed to 31 sites across South Africa where they will ensure high accuracy en-route and terminal aircraft guidance.

Together, these technologies will improve ATNS’ capability to offer airlines RNAV routes for faster and shorter trajectories, lower fuel consumption, and reduced carbon emissions. (RNAV or Area navigation is a method of instrument flight rules (IFR) navigation that allows an aircraft to choose any course within a network of navigation beacons, rather than navigate directly to and from the beacons.)

In addition to the supply, installation and commissioning of the new air traffic hardware, these contracts provide for a long term support and maintenance agreement.

Thabani Mthiyane, CEO of ATNS, said that “ATNS has invested in the acquisition of new and advanced technology for Air Traffic Management to replace the current national Air Traffic Management Automation system. Through this programme, ATNS will enter a new era of operational technology advancement for the benefit of the ATM community. The South African aviation infrastructure is considered to be one of the best in the world, contributing to the country’s aviation safety record. It is, therefore, imperative that we continue to invest wisely in this infrastructure to support the country’s overall transport infrastructure”.

Justice Tootla, Thales South Africa Systems, CEO, said that, “South Africa is one of the fastest growing ATM regions in the continent. As a result of Thales’ commitment to aligning our product roadmaps with international standards, Thales navigation and surveillance solutions 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.”

Thales noted that over the past decade, African air traffic has increased exponentially, with South Africa being one of the busiest airspaces in the continent.

In May 2013 Thales announced it had been awarded several contracts to upgrade some of South Africa’s air traffic management infrastructure, replacing legacy equipment with its TopSky air traffic control (ATC) systems. The company was also contracted to install Thales RSM 970 S radars at the Wakkerstroom, Potgieterus and Rhodes sites.

ATNS is the sole provider of air traffic, navigation and training services within South Africa and some parts of Africa and is responsible for 10% of the world’s airspace.