Kigali airport migrates to digital based data link

Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and SITA announced that a digital-based data link service is to be introduced at Kigali International Airport soon.
An aircraft being repaired at Kigali International Airport.
An aircraft being repaired at Kigali International Airport.

Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and SITA announced that a digital-based data link service is to be introduced at Kigali International Airport soon.

If fitted, the technology will eliminate total reliance on voice communications for digitally equipped aircraft. A move described by aviation experts as a big step towards improving aviation safety in Africa.

The technology—Digital-ATIS (Air Traffic Information System) and an air-ground data link service will be in place before the year ends, a statement sent to The New Times by SITA reads in part.

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 internet protocol (IP) service availability across the continent.

Denis McClean, the director, Public Relations, SITA says introducing a digital-based data link services at Kigali International Airport will eliminate total reliance on voice communications for digitally equipped aircraft.

Joshua Mbaraga, director general, Rwanda CAA, is quoted in the statement saying : “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.”

Mbaraga adds that the technology will obviate the need for pilots to tune into dedicated voice. 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, Mbaraga said.

Adding: “The Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority fully recognises 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,” says Mbaraga.

The statement quotes Akhil Sharma, SITA director, air traffic management, as saying, his organisation 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,” he said.

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