ATNS SOC Ltd: Setting the agenda for the future of African aviation

As the global aerospace industry continues to grow with constantly increasing numbers of flights, the onus falls ever more closely on safe air traffic control systems and carefully coordination. ATNS SOC Limited is responsible for air traffic control in approximately 10 per cent of the world’s airspace and operates from head offices located in Bruma, Gauteng.

“Our services extend further than the familiar air traffic control service, into the provision of vitally important aeronautical information used for all flight planning purposes as well as search and rescue coordination activities and the maintenance of a reliable navigation infrastructure,” describes the corporate website.

air-traffic-controlAmong the company’s key services are: the supply of aeronautical information services, technical maintenance and aerodrome services; alert, search and rescue co-ordination services; management of the flexible use of airspace through the Central Airspace Unit (CAMU); support for special events and special requirements such as test flights, demonstration flights, etc; the implementation and maintenance of a terrestrial-based navigational structure and the training of licensed air traffic controllers and technical staff through the Aviation Training Academy (ATA).

The ATNS Training Academy is an important element of ATNS and is renowned for providing a wide variety of Air Traffic Services, Technical Support and Related training.

“It is our vision to be a major contributing partner towards ensuring aviation safety in Africa, through our training efforts. We are committed to world best practices and we undertake to give each client the skills and knowledge to successfully take on the challenges faced by providers of Air Traffic Control and technical services,” the company says on its website.

The Academy employs instructors with outstanding credentials and operates highly modern equipment and facilities. The organisation’s motto is “LEARN TO SUCCEED” and ATNS certainly lives up to this mantra.

There is a co-operation agreement in place with the FAA Academy in Oklahoma City which provides the opportunity to reciprocally present courses on each organisation’s behalf and accredit each other’s international ATS courses.

“With a view to playing a more meaningful role in the global aviation arena, we are in the process of being accredited by the ICAO Trainair Unit.

“We continue to enter into MOU’s with other similar providers, such as the MOU with ASECNA, Algeria Enna, Sudan CAA, IATA and SACAA which is already in place,” the corporate website explains.

The success of the Academy can partly be measured by its status and the organisation’s Quality Management System operates in accordance with the ISO 9001:2000 Code of Practice, with certification attained back in November 1998.

The influence of ATNS was further illustrated in early February, when it hosted a 3 day Southern African Development Community (SADC) Air Traffic Management Coordination Summit (ATM/CM) near OR Tambo International Airport.

The meeting was held under the auspices of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and had the primary objective of addressing Air Traffic coordination and related safety and efficiency issues between adjacent airspaces in which various SADC States are responsible for the provision of Air Traffic Navigation services.

Late last year, ATNS requested the Eastern and Southern Africa Regional (ESAF) Office to convene an ATM/CM similar to those held in 2013 in Swaziland with a view to address several issues related to strategic and tactical coordination of air traffic, as well other incidental issues. This has resulted in the convening of the ATM/CM-SAF in Johannesburg 3-5 February 2015.

Due consideration was given to the issues that have been highlighted from various stakeholders concerned with the safety, efficiency and environmental protection in the air navigation activities. ATNS presented a number of Discussion papers, which amongst others, called for the discussion on the ongoing occurrences of Air Traffic Management (ATM) co-ordination failures between South African and adjacent Flight Information Regions (FIRs) that are impacting aviation safety.

Issues relating to Air Traffic Service routes were also discussed. It has been agreed that industry players should continue to develop efficient Air Traffic Services (ATS) route trajectories through the AFI ATS Route Catalogue based on efficiency, preferred profiles and environmental protection to support airspace optimization and Performance Based Navigation (PBN) implementation in the AFI Region. These routes will be implemented in May 2015.

airplane-in-dock-with-sunsetThe Chairperson of the SADC ATM/CM and ATNS ATM Senior Manager, Jeoffrey Matshoba, is confident that most of the safety issues identified will be resolved by the next meeting. “The meeting resolved that practical remedial solutions should be implemented as a matter of urgency. The estimated coordination risk could be considerably lower if all the African States

could implement certain critical safety initiatives”, said Matshoba.

Much of the future success of aerospace within Africa will depend upon collaboration and ATNS can be seen as a unifying entity. Last October saw the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO) Africa Conference.

Africa Office Chairman and ATNS CEO, Thabani Mthiyane told delegates attending the event in Zambia that they have realized the importance of increasing collaboration and cooperation among member states, thereby accelerating progress towards a safer, more efficient and cost-effective Air Traffic Management (ATM) system in the Africa Region.

“Obviously no single region of the world has monopoly on development. As a collective, we have taken cognizance of the fact that humanity’s struggle for growth and wellbeing is universal and calls for analogous solutions everywhere, although it is important that they be closely adapted to the countries in which they are applied. A region such as ours cannot have growth as its sole aim. Globalization offers a new spectrum of new essential services: the fight against climate change, aviation safety, security and stability; and of course the fight against poverty – to mention but a few” he said in his welcome speech.

He further went on to say that “it is no more a question of job creation or social equity but that infrastructure development, regional balance and cooperation were perfect examples of the economic and societal changes that aviators are championing”.

ATNS is already delivering excellence within the aviation industry and continues to create a road map for safe future growth.