Aviation bodies extend satellite services accord


Delegates on the final day of the workshop yesterday

Nafisat is a regional VSAT (telecommunication via satellite) network used for the purpose of dissemination of air traffic and flight information between air traffic control centres in the northern and eastern African states. The network is administered by Air Traffic Navigation Services (ATNS) of South Africa but owned by the member states.

The committee, which represents 14 countries, including Egypt, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Kenya, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, and Yemen, has a supervisory role to ensure that the administration and management of the communication via satellite network is running smoothly. They meet annually to discuss performance issues, analyse finances and decide on cost-recovery fees to be charged to airlines.

Rushj Lehutso, executive commercial services at ATNS, said that the pressing issue on the table this year was that the current agreements in place would be expiring in 2015, and that a decision needed to be taken as to whether ATNS’ service contract would be renewed.

“The committee reached the decision that ATNS’ contract would be extended for the following seven years, which will take us to 2022,” said Mr Lehutso.

“I commend the member states for their forward-planning. Some of our biggest challenges in the continent revolve around foresight, vision and the ability to avoid unnecessary crises.”

Mr Lehutso added that the decision enabled ATNS to release the investment needed to upgrade the current system and plan ahead for future requirements and new technology.

“It is essential that this critical, via-satellite, telecommunication network continues to operate smoothly to ensure safety and efficiency of flights over Africa. We also need to guarantee continuity of this service by planning for the future well in advance,” says Ms Lise Morel, the SCAA general manager of telecommunication and information systems.

 “This network is a superb example of how African states can indeed get together for the benefit of all,” Ms Morel said.