Monday, August 19, 2013
Dar airport beefs up safety equipment
Tanzania will soon install a $Sh3.4 billion surveillance and communication equipment to boost the country’s airspace monitoring system in the Eastern regions. Currently, the Tanzanian airspace is mainly monitored by the multi-billion shilling radar purchased controversially from the British Aerospace Engineering (BAE) Systems. The new surveillance and communication equipment would boost the current radar system, which also suffered technical problems recently. Ms Bestina Magutu, a Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority ( TCCIA) Information Officer, said in Dar es Salaam on Friday last week that the two equipment to be installed at the Mwalimu Julius Nyerere International airport would cost a whopping Sh 3.3 billion to be disbursed during the 2013/14 financial year. She said the surveillance equipment known as Automated Data Surveillance (ADS-B) would cost Euro 959,490 (Sh 2.0 bn/-) and that of collecting and sending aviation reports known as Aeronautical Message Handling System ( AMHS) would cost Euro 621, 345.2 (Sh1.2bn/-), both of which would be procured from Germany. She said the move was aimed at revamping the country’s aviation communication and safety, and that a German firm known as Comsoft had since been awarded a tender which will also install satellite machines. She further noted that implementation of this project was would commence early next year. Describing the suitability of the two devices, a TCAA technician, Engineer Valentina Kayombo said that installation of these two machines would give air traffic controllers a quick and overall control of the eastern horizon of the country, including the Indian Ocean. She said this was just the beginning of a larger project which would soon cover the country’s northern, western, and southern horizons -- depending on the availability of funds in forthcoming budget allocations. Engineer Kayombo noted that TCAA was determined to catch up global technological changes within the civil aviation industry, to effectively maintain the highest standards of air traffic control. She noted that Tanzania becomes among the first African countries to have used the newly introduced technology once installed. Asked if these were new radar equipment, she said although were similar in function, these would help the current radar to receive more aviation information because they have greater capacity to grasp information from afar. She made these clarifications in relation to the controversial radar system -- the biggest in the country -- which was bought from the UK-based BAE Systems company. Kayombo said the two devices were bought specifically to help boost the capacity of the current radar system, whose lifespan would soon come to an end. Meanwhile, the government through Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA) will provide sponsorship for the training of pilots during the 2013/14 financial year. TCAA Information Officer Bestina Magutu told a news conference that the government would ensure it gets enough and well trained indigenous pilots. She said the pilots’ training programme would be sponsored by a special training fund -- earlier established by the TCAA in 2007 -- known as ‘Civil Aviation Contribution and Administration of Training Fund’. Various civil aviation stakeholders have since donated some $200,000 (equivalent to Sh. 320 m/-) to run the fund, she said, adding that more donations were expected. She said five Tanzanians had been selected for sponsorship during this financial year to undergo a 14-mpnth training session in South Africa – out of 272 candidates who had applied for sponsorship. TCAA is a semi-autonomous public institution responsible for overseeing the country’s aviation industry. The authority was established in 2000 as a corporate body and is governed by seven board members. The authority is charged with ensuring safety, security and regularity of civil aviation in Tanzania by providing effective oversight and efficient air navigation services while maintaining quality, protecting the environment and safeguarding the interest of consumers and the public.