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 years end and is in line with ICAOs (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 SITAs 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 AIRCOMs 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 ICAOs airspace safety plan strategy. We applaud the Rwanda Civil Aviation Authoritys 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.
Denis McClean


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