Gauteng Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  15 Oct 2009

AVIATION: Cutting-Edge Mobile Air Traffic Control in SA


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SIA Solutions, the empowered airports and aviation technology company, has obtained exclusive rights to supply, integrate and support the mobile air traffic control (ATC) towers of UK-based Host Systems in Southern Africa.

Ntsane Kolisang, SIA’s marketing director, says the company is enjoying growing prestige as a leading supplier to all the major players in South Africa’s civil, commercial and defence aviation circles.

What counts heavily in SIA’s favour is the depth and breadth of skills backing up its implementations, he explains. A joint venture between technology groups Tellumat and Harambe Technologies, SIA lays claim to the necessary project management, systems integration and support skills, but also boasts deep engineering and design capabilities, down to silicon level.

Michael Brunton, Managing Director at Host Systems, says SIA was the first choice to partner the company on the continent, given its extensive experience in the aviation market. “Specifically, we were gratified to encounter an impressive track record supporting airports’ ATC competencies, borne out by a host of customer sites.”

Kolisang says Host Systems was identified by SIA as an important supplier of hi-tech solutions geared towards airport operators. The company has been involved in ATCs for some 20 years. In the past 6 years, Host Systems have developed the most advanced design in Mobile Air Traffic Control. This design is currently in use, for example, in Afghanistan where a Host Tower is handling 400 movements a day controlling Camp Bastion.

The systems are able to provide crucial ATC backup during times of airport alterations, main systems failure or other eventualities for which temporary arrangements must be made. These include temporary air strips used in military/peacekeeping programmes, or for crisis backup in 9/11 scenarios. The Host Systems Mobile ATC Tower is particularly useful for smaller airports unable to afford a conventional tower. Although fitted with exactly the same ATC equipment as a normal tower, the Host Tower is a fraction of the price and can be delivered within 6 months instead of the usual 12-18 months required to plan and build a normal ATC Tower.

Wheeled in to replace or augment the ATC function, mobile ATC towers have the benefit of rapid deployability, with only four men needed to have the system fully operational in one hour says Kolisang. They are not of ‘lesser’ specification, he clarifies; they answer to the minimum requirements set for the deployment and use of ATCs, within obvious bounds of reasonable mobility.

SIA will participate in the customisation, fitting and installation of towers for customers, and the support of live systems and the mobile towers throughout their life cycle – ranging from 15 to 20 years. The company’s personnel is currently undergoing training, and may undertake to train customer staff as part of specific supply deals.

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