Parliamentary Question: DoT: ATNS

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Remarks at the opening of the 3D Simulator at the ATNS Training Academy by Minister of Transport Sibusiso Ndebele

Programme Director

CEO of ATNS: Mr Patrick Dlamini

Members of the Board of ATNS

Distinguished Guests

Members of the Media

Ladies and gentlemen

On Friday last week, we had the opportunity to interact with stakeholders at the Airlines Association of Southern Africa Annual General Conference. During the engagement, various experts across the region shared their views with regard to the aviation industry’s ability to survive in global challenging economic conditions.

During the conference, as the Department of Transport, we were able to highlight some of the milestones in the aviation industry which entities including Air Traffic Navigation Services (ATNS), the Civil Aviation Authority, Airports Company South Africa and South African Airways have done to ensure our aviation industry has a credible track record.

Today, through ATNS, we are saying the aviation industry cannot be sustainable if the skills that are needed in this sector are not developed in time. The identification of scarce skills within the aviation sector is critical, so that the relevant training is located within the framework of the demanding and technically advanced areas. This allows for proactive and better planning on the part of the industry.

ATNS has the need for the 3D Aerodrome Simulator to allow for the effective and cost-efficient training of Air Traffic Controllers from South Africa, as well as controllers from other sovereign states within the Africa Indian Ocean Area (AFI region). In the past, ATNS made use of the 3D Aerodrome simulator for training at the Aviation Training Academy. Unfortunately, the Aerodrome simulator stopped working in 2009 due to the hardware’s obsolescence.

ATNS then entered into a partnership with Airways New Zealand to facilitate the Aerodrome Simulator skills and technology transfer. Under the partnership agreement, Airways New Zealand developed the software to fulfil the user requirements, while ATNS supplied the hardware manufactured as well as the hardware procured in South Africa.

ATNS also acquired the enterprise licence that allows installations of additional 3D Aerodrome Simulators at other ATNS sites within South Africa to allow for additional training. ATNS will thus have an option to install large projection simulators and small desktop simulators depending on the space availability and training requirements at no additional software cost. Only hardware will be required for the deployment of additional simulators within South Africa.

Knowledge transfer was also facilitated through the Aerodrome simulator project. Airways New Zealand provided the project team with all the hardware requirements and circuit diagrams. The project team was responsible for purchasing and installing all required hardware. The communication unit for the Aerodrome simulator is also manufactured in South Africa.

Software knowledge transfer is scheduled to take place during this month, October 2011. Three ATNS representatives are scheduled to travel to New Zealand to work with the Airways team on the Airspace, Vehicle, and Aircraft model development. ATNS representatives will then be responsible to independently develop additional airspaces such as King Shaka (KSIA) and Cape Town international airport.

The ATNS 3D Aerodrome Simulator project will make a contribution to the “Year of Job-Creation and Service Delivery in the Transport Sector,” as the collaboration with Airways New Zealand facilitates technology and knowledge transfer in addition to providing ATNS with sufficient tools to meet the training requirements.

Other developments in Aviation

With South Africa focusing on economic growth, Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) has done much in striving to make sure that the South African aviation industry remains at an upward trend, despite global market threats and uncertainty. A lot of work has been done at the OR Tambo and Cape Town International Airports in readiness for expected growth in our aviation industry. The following statistics and facts reflect some remarkable achievements in our aviation sector. These include:

Design capacity of the old Durban International Airport (DIA) was approximately five million passengers per annum – over the past 12 months KSIA has facilitated almost five million passengers already – in the first year of operation.

If the current growth trend continues, by March 2012, KSIA would have facilitated more passengers in financial year 2012 than the capacity of the old DIA – this, even after the impact of the global recession.

An investment of around R1 billion to R1.5 billion at the time would have extended the old DIA useful life for roughly another five years to around 2017 (from saturation around 2012, inclusive of sweating the airport facilities). This was considered, but would have resulted in passengers and airlines having to pay the R1 billion to R1.5 billion in tariffs over that shortened period (i.e. five years). Following that, KSIA would have still had to be built as old DIA would then have reached saturation.

The decision to build KSIA was taken before the recession. In the 2008 financial year, old DIA already facilitated more than 4.8 million passengers. It was already a very constrained airport.

The commercial opportunities associated with the KSIA development are vast.

KSIA has approximately three times more retail outlets than the old DIA, contributing over the medium to long term to the subsidisation of tariffs. The airport site also has property development opportunities, which would be unlocked over the next few years.

The old DIA site has residual value in the strategic nature of the land. On the disposal of the land, it would inject further capital into ACSA to enable future airport development at other ACSA airports such as O.R. Tambo International. 

In closing, aviation will remain a vital industry for our continent and a key driver of our economic development for a number of reasons:

Air transport has a growing impact on Africa’s economies.

The air industry generates more than 470 000 direct and indirect jobs across the continent.

The industry contributes over US$ 12.3 billion to African GDP.

If we add air transport-dependent tourism activities, then the number of jobs increases to over four million.

The contribution to African Gross Domestic Product is more than US$ 57.5 billion. 

Over 300 000 people in the USA, or 4% of direct employment, for example, in tourism depend on arriving visitors from overseas.

In Africa, air transport continues to be a primary means of communicating with remote areas, providing relief from natural disasters, transporting humanitarian aid, assisting and supporting peacekeeping efforts.

Whilst questions remain about the sustainability of many of the smaller airlines, the fact remains that aviation is becoming more and more accessible to ordinary people, and we can be assured that passenger numbers will continue to grow significantly in the near future.

An Airlift Strategy for South Africa was approved by Cabinet. The strategy arises from an examination of the aviation constraints that Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa (ASGISA) has identified. It aims to improve South African airlines’ international competitiveness, thereby growing South Africa’s share of the international transport market and meeting the tourism and trade sectors’ requirements for cost-effective and efficient air services.

The Strategy represents a specific intervention within an overall approach to the development of the aviation sector.

We need to deal with an emphasis on the economic impact of the aviation sector, particularly where we are attempting to increase the contribution that aviation makes both in its own specific terms and in the broader development of the aeronautics industry generally in Africa. We ought to check our regulatory, safety and security regimes and keep them mature enough to cope, flexible enough to adapt, and technologically efficient enough to sustain and retain competitive advantage.

As a country, we need to continue to engage areas of airspace management to the application of the most recent technologies to assist in such critical areas as weather prediction, and to assess emergency and disaster management systems, to oversight mechanisms of safety plans, and so on. One task now will be to integrate the knowledge gained, and shared experiences into effective operations and oversight by all concerned, including governments.

I thank you.



Issued by: Department of Transport
18 Oct 2011