The South African National Space Agency (SANSA) and the Air Traffic and Navigation Services (ATNS) SOC Ltd signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) today, 12 October 2021 – to improve cooperation between the two entities.
The MOU aims to strengthen the dynamic, integrated management of air traffic and airspace with specific reference to the operational and technological developments and alignment to international requirements in aviation. Furthermore, according to Val Munsami, SANSA CEO, the partnership is very critical to both parties. He added that SANSA were very excited about the signing.
While SANSA and ATNS pursue different goals, some intersect, necessitating the cooperation and subsequent MOU. These involve Satellite-Based Augmentation Systems (SBAS), magnetic variation, Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), etc. Dumisani Sangweni, CEO of ATNS, shared similar sentiments with the SANSA CEO. He commented that the signature marked a significant milestone in taking their partnership to the next level.
Another area of cooperation between the two parties includes High Frequency (HF) Communications. ATNS currently deploys HF voice communications as a secondary means to communicate to aircraft within its Oceanic Area of responsibility. As a Center of Excellence for HF Communications, SANSA can provide propagation prediction and communication planning through its Space Weather Centre and its unique software programme IOCAP, a modern, user-friendly HF frequency prediction application produced by SANSA as a proudly South African product.
In addition, ATNS provides a Pre-Flight Information Bulletin Service for air navigation within South Africa. This includes Notice to Airmen (NOTAM), Weather (METAR info) and other related aviation notifications. ATNS foresee that value will be added by including space weather information. SANSA has been recognized as a designated space weather information provider to the aviation sector by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). SANSA is also expanding Space Weather Infrastructure and Capability to ensure an ICAO compliant service. Additionally, SANSA and ATNS can collaborate through this MOU to create awareness of space weather impacts. They can also prepare the aviation community to utilize the information while ensuring ICAO compliance for the region.
The signature was virtual due to the restriction of movements resulting from the pandemic. In addition, the next renewal will be in 2026, five years from now, as the partnership dates back to 2013. Dr Munsami stated that the renewal was a testimony of a mutually beneficial relationship for the betterment of air traffic and airspace
ATNS provides air traffic, navigation, training and associated services within South Africa and a large part of the Southern Indian and the Atlantic Ocean, comprising approximately 10% of the world’s airspace. ATNS’s services extend beyond air traffic control services into providing important aeronautical information for all flight planning purposes. Their other services include search and rescue coordination and maintenance of reliable navigation infrastructure.