New air traffic system on the way


The local air navigation company is pushing for better air traffic flow management.SA`s Air Traffic Navigation Systems (ATNS) company is pressing Thales, of the Netherlands, to develop it an advanced air traffic flow management (ATFM) system.

The software design and manufacture is expected to take two years to complete, says ATNS spokesperson Anna Sanfilippo. The R54 million contract follows a five-year concept development study and international tender.

“The need for a central flow management unit was recognised by ATNS several years ago and as a result of this, the central airspace management unit (CAMU) was born,” says ATNS CEO Wrenelle Stander.

Existing international air traffic flow management best practices were researched and it was found further specific development was required for the South African environment.

“It was decided to take the best ATFM concepts and to integrate them into the existing SAAATS Eurocat Air Traffic Management System,” Stander adds.

Integrated system

This system is unique in that it is the first time that an ATFM system of this type will be fully integrated into an advanced air traffic management system, enabling automated strategic, pre-tactical and tactical ATFM to be carried out, he adds.

“As a highly integrated system, it will have collaborative decision-making capabilities which will ensure the reasonable requirements of air traffic control, aircraft operators, military aviation and airport operators are considered by the CAMU before an airspace plan is finalised,” Stander says.

“This process also ensures the South African airspace and airport facilities are optimally used and aircraft trajectories are calculated, accommodating the aircraft operator`s requirements.”

Once in place, the system will be instrumental in coordinating traffic on a national and regional level. This will allow ATNS to create the capacity to better cope with traffic growth projected at 5.4% per annum, including the increased demands expected during the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

The ATNS provides a countrywide air traffic management service in addition to local control at 21 airports and handles over 600 000 aircraft arrivals and departures a year.

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