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SITA and Rwanda take the first digital step towards improving aviation safety in Africa


The Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and SITA today announced the introduction of digital-based data link services at Kigali International Airport which will eliminate total reliance on voice communications for digitally equipped aircraft.

The Digital-ATIS (Air Traffic Information System) system and an air-ground data link service will be in place by year’s end and is in line with ICAO’s (International Civil Aviation Organization) Comprehensive Regional Implementation Plan for Aviation Safety in Africa agreed at the last ICAO General Assembly in September 2007.

Joshua Mbaraga, General Director, Rwanda CAA, said: “The Digital-ATIS system to be installed at Kigali International Airport will enable data link equipped aircraft to receive ATIS information via SITA’s AIRCOM VHF and satellite data link service so that the information will be displayed on cockpit screens or printed on cockpit printers.

“This will obviate the need for pilots to tune into dedicated voice ATIS frequencies in the approach phase and having to write down what can be often lengthy messages during the critical phases of the approach. In addition to the obvious safety benefit of avoiding mistakes in listening to the traditional voice ATIS broadcasts in the approach phase, the Digital-ATIS service for Kigali International Airport can be accessed from almost anywhere in the globe due to SITA AIRCOM’s global coverage which allows information to be picked up anywhere en route.”

He added: “The Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority fully recognizes the safety and efficiency benefits that data link technology can bring to air navigation service delivery and D-ATIS is just the first element of our plans to implement ICAO recommendations.”

SITA delivers air/ground and ground/ground data communications services across Africa to support airline and air navigation service provider requirements and has almost completed the migration to IP service availability across the continent.

Akhil Sharma, SITA Director, Air Traffic Management, said:” SITA is committed to supporting air navigation infrastructure improvements across the African continent in line with ICAO’s airspace safety plan strategy. We applaud the Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority’s initiative and foresight to implement D-ATIS and are confident that the service will deliver safety and efficiency benefits as increasing numbers of data link equipped aircraft start to serve Kigali International Airport.”

SITA which is owned by the air transport community operates over 1,000 VHF data radios across the globe and delivers a satellite service via two Ground Earth Stations that provide access to INMARSAT geostationary satellites; the combined service is used on a daily basis by over 6,000 aircraft, over 180 airlines and 40 air navigation service providers around the world.


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