Civil AviationAuthority (CAA) plans to install Digital-ATIS at the airport to ensure safety and efficience. This Digital-ATIS or Digital Automatic Terminal Information Service (D-ATIS) will ensure accurate weather observation, runway information, Notices to Airmen (NOTAMS), and airport advisories are delivered.
Joshua Mbaraga, director general, Rwanda CAA said: "D-ATIS is just the first element of our plans to implement International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) recommendations."
The Asia/Pacific planning and implementation group meeting in August 2003, identified the need to include the implementation of Digital ATIS and Departure clearance services via data link into the list of key priorities.
The development at Kigali airport comes at a time both aircrafts and passengers using the airport are increasing.
"Automation is maintaining and improving the highest standard in the aviation industry," James Kushemererwa, Rwanda CAA publicist said. Rwanda CAA has to automate its operation.
The number of passengers using Kigali International Airport has been increasing steadily in the last four years, with 2005 registering a record 333,949 passengers.
Records in the CAA show that at least 146,239 passengers used the Kigali airport in the six years on average.
This vital data needed for the smooth operations of any airport is currently being collected and passed on manually. The controllers record ATIS information and latter it is verbally broadcasted via a specific radio frequency.
But there are reports that some times this information is distorted during transmission. PlaneCrashInfo.com, an online aviation publication shows that most plane crashes are a result of human error. So, if air traffic controllers’ error, the pilot is bound to error. Therefore correct and timely information is crucial in flying.
It is mandatory; flight crews receive ATIS information for an arrival to, or departure from, an airport.
With the D-ATIS at Kigali International Airport, aircrafts that have the capability will be able to receive information without having to transcribe it, and flight crews will also be able to hear an improved quality audio recoding of the information that they need in order to navigate safely.
This means that written information prepared in the weather and flight planning office will now be automatically transcribed via a computer to a synthesised voice broadcast message.
The information contained in the ATIS will be broadcast in a uniform and standardised manner, which will enhance safety by eliminating varying voice tones and pronunciations. This new system will also reduce the workload of the air traffic controllers at the airport.
Kusemererwa said a South African State Information Technology Agency (SITA) has been contracted to deliver the Digital-ATIS system and install it at the airport by April.
International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), is an agency of the United Nations that among other regulates the aviation industry in the world. Currently every airline operating at Kigali airport has its own counter with different operations.
Rwanda has already benefited from the Karisimbi project. The multi billion project will among others improve operations in the aviation industry.
"When the Karisimbi project is integrated with the radar system we are using, we shall have positive air traffic control including over flights, landing and takeoffs," Kusemererwa earlier said.
The communication gadgets—communication navigation surveillance – air traffic management (CNS-ATM) are positioned on Karisimbi summit at 4,507 metres above sea level.
It is hoped these will enhance efficient, safe, secure and environmentally sustainable air navigation on the continent. Big airlines which fly direct to Europe and America will be attracted in the region. This will save time, handling costs and ware and tear of aircrafts that have been making stopovers at different airports to connect passengers to their destinations.
Plans are also in the pipeline to upgrade aerodromes at Butare, Gisenyi, Nemba and Ruhengeri. This will easy transport in the country and boost tourism.
Statistics from ICAO show that the highest risk of the bird strike is during the takeoff and landing, in low altitudes, which is in the vicinity of the airports. The bird hazard costs the world aviation industry in excess $1 billion (Frw542 billion) annually.
To prevent birds from hitting aircrafts, Rwand CAA contracted the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s (EWT) to assist them in establishing an effective bird and wildlife hazard management programme. Collisions between planes and birds, once a problem at the airport, have been less common in recent years. Around-the-clock clearing of runways by the bird hazard unit has been effective.
These birds are attracted by termites and ants that come during the rainy season, according to a report from the Endangered Wildlife Trust, a South Africa-based firm.
CAA has also installed 14 surveillance cameras at Kigali International Airport in an effort to step up its response to recent recommendations by the world’s leading aviation authority.
The ICAO suggested the CAA install cameras three years ago.
Already 14 cameras have been set up in strategic positions at the passenger terminal building. The additional 14 will be installed across airfields and runways.