Livingstone - CANSO, the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation, said that Africa now has a unique opportunity to modernise air navigation infrastructure across the continent. The combination of technological advances and States’ commitment to implementing system upgrades mean there has never been a better time to implement infrastructure improvements. These would improve aviation safety; enhance efficiency for airlines; and increase connectivity to boost African GDP. Support and cooperation from industry partners and States is critical to making this happen.

Speaking at the CANSO Africa Conference in Livingstone, Zambia, CANSO Director General, Jeff Poole, said, “The air transport industry is a catalyst for supporting the growth of economies across Africa. Air traffic management (ATM) plays a vital role in this by ensuring the smooth and safe flow of traffic. While many States have invested to upgrade their ATM infrastructure, there is still a widespread need for modernisation to manage the expected growth in air traffic and to enable airlines to make full use of the latest technologies. There is now a unique opportunity to take African aviation to the next level. The combination of technological advances and the upgrade structure developed by ICAO, CANSO and stakeholders, will enable the transformation of ATM performance across Africa.”

Modernisation of air navigation infrastructure will result in huge benefits: it will enable Africa to cater for the expected five percent a year growth in air traffic; provide much-needed connectivity across the continent, providing access to markets and tourism and boosting GDP growth; and further improve safety, the industry’s number one priority.

Poole outlined the steps needed: “We have a clear road map to achieve the necessary infrastructure improvements through CANSO’s strategic plan, Vision 2020, and ICAO’s Aviation System Block Upgrades (ASBUs), that are fully aligned with each other. They enable air navigation service providers to put in place the latest technologies and practices, without having to convert from legacy systems. For example, new satellite-based technologies can be adopted where there is no significant ATM coverage, particularly in Africa’s remote areas.”

The implementation of ASBUs will lead to greater harmonisation of airspace; allow aircraft to fly precisely defined paths without relying on ground-based radio navigation systems; enable more accurate tracking of aircraft through satellite technology; and better management of traffic flows through anticipating demand versus capacity. The benefits of implementing ASBUs are significant and include: enhanced safety; greater efficiency; increased predictability; better use of capacity; reduced airborne holding and delays; and lower environmental impact, both emissions and noise.

Poole outlined an approach to securing funding: “I recognise that financing the improvements detailed in the ASBUs is often a challenge in Africa, with many other priorities competing for funds. ANSPs and the ATM industry will play their part by delivering a strong business case to governments for infrastructure funding; and by demonstrating the broader economic benefits of aviation and tourism that are enabled through modern and efficient ATM infrastructure. Airlines and other stakeholders need to support the case for better ATM infrastructure to ensure their own investments can be properly utilised. Revenues generated by the civil aviation sector should be re-invested in the sector. And regional cooperation and integration should be explored as the best way to secure cost-effective investments and achieve better returns.”

Poole concluded, “Partnership is key to transforming ATM performance across Africa. We have a strong record of working with States and stakeholders to improve African aviation. We must now all work together to grasp these opportunities to modernise air traffic management. By doing so, we all benefit with a safer, more efficient, better harmonised aviation system that will benefit economies across Africa.”