Air Traffic and Navigation Services (ATNS), the State-owned supplier of air traffic control services to about 10% of the world’s airspace and an increasing contributor to air safety in African skies, this week marked its 20th anniversary.
Speaking during a commemorative function, Thabani Mthiyane, recently appointed ATNS chief executive, said South Africa’s aviation infrastructure was considered to be among the best in the world. This allowed it to make a significant contribution to the country’s aviation safety record.
“Because of this ATNS continues to invest wisely in this infrastructure to support the overall national transport infrastructure. Through this ATNS provides a significant contribution to the South African and continental aviation industry with safer skies the ultimate objective.”
Among milestones achieved by ATNS in its 20 history to date is the installation of Versatile Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) networks providing ground-to-ground systems enabling regional voice and data communications. This covers SADC (Southern African Development Community) and the North/East Africa region (NAFISAT). ATNS is currently collaborating with its SADC counterparts to explore the SADC Upper Airspace Control Centre to promote globalisation and harmonisation of technologies in the region.
Another milestone is the ATNS Air Traffic Management (ATM) roadmap. Developed in 2010 its aim is an inter-operable, global air traffic management system for all users during all flight phases to agreed safety levels. This will provide for optimum economic operations as well as environmentally sustainable aviation while meeting national security requirements.
As chair of the AFI Flight Plan (FPL) 2012 task force, ATNS leads African and Indian Ocean regional efforts in transitioning from the traditional flight plan to a new format. This became operational last November and ATNS, as the communication hub, regularly updates aeronautical information management systems across the region to support the new flight plan format.
Looking ahead ATNS spokesman Percy Morokane said the company’s business focus would remain on air traffic management and aviation safety for South Africa.
“Our scope has however been extended beyond South Africa’s borders to neighbouring countries and the rest of the continent including the Indian Ocean region. This will enable ATNS to respond efficiently to global challenges while maintaining provision of top air traffic management solutions to South Africa.”