African civil aviation is said to be five to nine times riskier than the global average. Therefore, investment in regional air and ground safety can contribute to the continent’s attractiveness as a sought-after travel and business destination.
What’s needed in the long run is coordinated investment in leading-edge technologies to enhance safety and cost efficiencies, which will do much to develop smaller airports which are so important for the expansion of African business and tourism.
Promising developments in this regard include efforts to create a single upper airspace management capability in the SADC region.
African aviation stakeholders should further keep an eye on global air transportation and air traffic management advances in the US’s NextGen and EU’s SESAR projects – which would require modernisation of the air traffic control (ATC) communications infrastructure on the continent.
Remote air traffic control technology
In addition, installing remote air traffic control technology can provide a cost-effective improvement in ATC and safety at multiple airports while using fewer skilled air traffic controllers located at one control room – an effective way of managing ATC operating costs over the medium to long term.
We also note innovations in technology segments such as energy-efficient LED airfield ground lighting (AGL) as well as exciting advances in the areas of satellite-based navigation, and solar power solutions for AGL installations.
LED-ing the way
It’s been 15 years since LED technology found application in AGL. Since then, its longevity has been assured by its energy efficiency, ease of maintenance, improved safety, lower environmental impact, and ultimately, cost-efficiency.
From an African perspective, the best-LED solutions offer backward compatibility with traditional halogen lighting implementations, protecting airport investments while embracing the low cost of ownership of LED lighting technology.
In addition, leading solutions feature intelligent designs, incorporating advances such as software-based manageability and dual-purpose powerline communications, which likewise look to the future while embracing cost efficiencies.
Adding to the advances in LED lighting in AGL applications, we’ve seen increasing use of solar energy in this technology area.
Harnessing the earth’s most abundant energy source – the sun – solar cells collect energy and convert it into usable electricity. But solar is an intermittent energy source, which limits its use at night. Lately, however, breakthroughs in the use of rechargeable batteries for solar energy storage in GLS systems has been the cause of much interest, and smart systems take specific geographic conditions such as the minimum hours of sunshine into consideration, ensuring that solar AGL systems never run out of battery power.
Leading solar-powered AGL solutions further stand out for their smart management of the solar energy feeding into batteries – needed both for efficiency and to protect batteries from overcharging.
This will stand African airports in good stead as they seek to build low-risk investment cases that won’t break the bank and bring cutting-edge safety to smaller airports.
On the other end of the scale are future technologies such as satellite-based navigation systems, which are gradually replacing ground-based systems.
And, as noted above, airports must keep an eye on initiatives like Next-Generation and SESAR – specifically, integration between the two programmes. There’s no indication currently that Africa will strategically modernise its airspace to the extent of the Next-Generation initiative, or overhaul its traffic management in emulation of SESAR, but various entities are investing in this area and will be looked to for leadership.
Remote control towers
Another avenue worth exploring for local use is remote control air traffic control towers (ATC), which replace on-site air traffic controllers using cameras and data communication links.
Where operational budgets are lacking, an ATC tower configuration consisting of a central hub managing multiple airfields remotely, provides a uniquely African-suited solution for air traffic control. It has the potential to quickly improve air traffic safety in outlying areas, bringing more destinations into the fold of achieving the required safety standards necessary for airlines to permit the operation of scheduled flights to an airport. In turn, an increase in scheduled flights benefits the local economy by creating improved regional access for business and tourism.
The latest technological advances are highly applicable to Africa’s challenges around civil aviation safety, as well as its above-average budget constraints and creaky technological legacy. It’s not just a matter of meeting the needs of airports previously considered sub-economical, it has enormous potential for regional air travel expansion, with knock-on economic benefits for African countries and the continent as a whole.
The continent’s needs can best be met by providers with the skills, experience and vendor relationships to satisfy the needs of civil and military airports.
The credentials most needed are strong OEM relationships for cutting-edge navigational aid systems, including radar, instrument landing systems (ILS), runway lights, precision approach systems, direction finders and weather observation systems.
But no less critical is a full range of services, ranging from manufacturing to implementation, support and maintenance of cutting-edge, as well as legacy aviation equipment.
And to meet Africa’s needs for new installations, as well as maintenance and repair of legacy equipment, which are still so prevalent in the region, providers need expertise in systems design, solution integration, installation, maintenance, obsolescence management and repairs.
Ozow partners FlySafair to improve air travel access for millions of South Africans
Thomas Pays, Co-Founder and CEO of Ozow
A new partnership between digital payments company Ozow and leading local airline FlySafair is making it easier than ever for South Africans to purchase flight tickets.
According to Ozow co-founder and CEO Thomas Pays, the vast majority of South Africans have no credit cards and require alternative means of purchasing goods and services online. “There are more than 49 million bank accounts but only eight million active credit cards in South Africa. This poses the threat of locking millions out of digital and financial services. As an impact-driven and market-led company, Ozow is at the forefront of developing products, services and partnerships that enable greater digital and financial inclusion for all consumers and businesses. The partnership with South Africa’s most innovative and consumer-friendly airline is one more step toward this goal.”
Kirby Gordon, Chief Marketing Officer at FlySafair, says: “We’ve always respected the need to offer customers without credit cards various options to make payments both online and offline. We’re pleased to have partnered with Ozow who offer a safe, reliable and easy-to-use option for our customers.”
While airlines have been grounded and air travel limited since lockdown was first implemented in March 2020, South Africans generally love to fly. In 2017 alone, the Airports Company of South Africa tracked more than 40 million passengers traveling through the country’s nine largest airports.
Pays adds that the two companies share a commitment to ensure their services are accessible to all South Africans. “As a business, we work to break down barriers that keep more consumers from enjoying the benefits of digital payments. Cash remains the most expensive and least secure method of payment, but most South Africans still rely on cash payments for most of their purchases. By partnering with likeminded, consumer-led businesses such as FlySafair, we can accelerate the decashing of the South African economy and bring digital and financial empowerment to all South Africans.”
iFly Aviation Takes Young Aviators And STEM Program To Uganda
Kampala, Uganda: iFly is an aviation enterprise which is dedicated to bridging the gap between industry and community through inclusive youth empowerment programs. Our core focus is social innovation in Aviation, Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) and driving our initiatives alongside key stakeholders in order to facilitate and enable the next generation.
Our purpose is to elevate learners by empowering them, motivating and giving insight into opportunities that exist within the aviation industry and educating them along the way. As part of our efforts to drive our initiatives across Africa as to create a pan African movement, we have recently launched our programs in Uganda, this being the second country after South Africa.
We hosted our first event at Nakasero secondary school in Uganda, to the delight of over 200 students. They were exposed to motivational talks including insights into aviation and its various opportunities. We had a flight simulator session where the students got exposed to a computer based flight simulator in order to see and learn first hand what happens in the cockpit during flight.
The event was also complimented by a first of its kind engine building project, an initiative of the Rolls Royce STEM program. Through this workshop, students got to build a 3D model Trent engine, the likes of which powers the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and Airbus A350, 2 of the most popular wide body airliners in the world.
Our goal a to have such programs running across the continent and we would Like to invite any like minded and passionate people across Africa to join us as ambassadors and adopt iFly STEM under our blue print in their respective countries. We sincerely appreciate our ambassadors in Uganda for pulling off a successful first event. David Ssenkungu, Derrick Talemwa, Peter Mwesigwa and Hosea Datari.
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SAA to address CEO Vuyani Jarana’s resignation, outline future plans
Picture: ANA/Ayanda Ndamane.
JOHANNESBURG – The board of South African Airways (SAA) and its executive management will on Friday take the nation into their confidence about the state-owned airline’s current and future plans in light of Vuyani Jarana’s resignation as CEO.
In a terse statement on Thursday, the leadership of the airline said it would like to put certain matters into perspective and assure its customers, the markets and stakeholders about business continuity and commitment to the implementation of the airline strategy.
Jarana tendered his resignation last week as group chief executive, citing the airline’s mounting debt due to uncertainty about funding and lack of support from government as a shareholder in implementing the airline’s long-term turnaround strategy.
In his leaked resignation letter, Jarana said that a big chunk of the R5 billion bailout SAA received from government for the 2018/19 financial year had been used to pay creditors up to the end of March 2018, to the point that the airline on three occasions was on the brink of not paying salaries.
“We have not been able to obtain any further funding commitment from government, making it difficult to focus on the execution of the strategy,” Jarana said.
“I spend most of my time dealing with liquidity and solvency issues. Lack of commitment to fund SAA, is systematically undermining the implementation of the strategy, making it increasingly difficult to succeed.”
The board of SAA accepted Jarana’s resignation, saying that he had spearheaded the implementation of the long-term strategy to return the airline to financial and operational sustainability and position it to deliver effectively on its mandate since he joined the airline in November 2017.
But workers under the SA Cabin Crew Association have slammed the airline for making Jarana’s life difficult, saying that he had, through consultation and transparency, managed to get the buy in of cabin crew at SAA into the long term turnaround strategy and his clear plan to revive the carrier’s fortunes.
The workers have even threatened to go on strike to have Jarana reinstated as SAA chief executive.
African News Agency (ANA)