Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority has acquired a new digital navigation system that will help in enhancing the safety of both oncoming and departing planes.
The Rwf1.3 billion new HVF Omni Directional Radio Range (VOR) will send strong communication signals to pilots unlike the outdated analogue system.
Kizito Bongayi, the head of air traffic management at RCCA, said the old system had developed glitches and would send poor and misleading signals between pilots and controllers at Kigali International Airport.
“The digital signals are transmitted fast, and are strong and stable, which helps us to prepare for aircraft arriving from various destinations,” Bongayi said.
“It’s important for us especially as the air traffic grows; with the new procedures, we now have two holding patterns which facilitate in landing and departing of aircrafts,” he told The New Times.
In aviation, a holding pattern is a specific location where a plane remains flying as it awaits clearance for landing or to proceed. This is done to ensure flight safety.
Bongayi said the old system had only one holding pattern that was also situated in a climbing zone, which exposed aircrafts to risk of collision.
The new technology was installed by Jeppersen Company, an American firm that specialises in navigational information.
Bongayi said the new system started operating last week when foreign delegates were jetting into the country to attend the 20th Genocide commemoration event.
At one point, about 14 planes were being kept waiting in a holding pattern as others were departing to provide space, he said.
Flying with the times
Traffic at Kigali International Airport has been steadily increasing over the years, with up to eight airlines now serving the airport.
Tony Barigye, the Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority communication officer, said the new mechanism is meant to enhance security and safety as the country’s aviation sector develops further.
“Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority is driven by our vision aimed at having world class civil aviation safety, security and provision of quality services. And as flight frequencies grow, we are realising the urgency to improve efficiency,” Barigye said.
The system is also in line with harmonisation of air transport sector in the East African region.
Article 93 of the East African Community Treaty requires partner states to harmonise policies on civil aviation to promote the development of safe, reliable, efficient and economically viable civil aviation with a view to developing appropriate infrastructure.
Kigali International Airport was this week ranked seventh among Africa’s regional airports and the best in terms of product and service delivery in East Africa.
The ranking survey was carried out by Skytrax, a UK-based consultancy firm.
Dr Richard Masozera, the director-general Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority, said the ranking is representative of the activity at the Kigali International Airport and the enormous developmental investments and human resource efforts to ensure that Rwanda keeps growing toward realising its goal of becoming a continental aviation powerhouse.
The airport was also recognised for being efficient, fast and secure in the checking in process as well as traffic control management.
The airport has experienced consistent growth in international and domestic passenger numbers, from 263,264 in 2008, to current 600,000 annually.
It is also being upgraded and installed with new facilities, with projection to handle more than 1.6 million passengers per annum in the near future.