Georgia's Government has signed a long-term partnership agreement which will enable the country to modernise its civil aviation infrastructure.
Under the $105 million agreement the former Soviet republic will assist US specialists in developing a 15-year master plan aimed at implementing a wide range of improvement projects.
Georgian minister of transport and communications Merab Adeishvili says: "It is the political will of the Georgian Government to establish this long-term partnership for the aviation infrastructure modernisation of Georgia."
Georgia's Government has selected US firm Lockheed Martin Air Traffic Management as its partner for the scheme.
Although Georgian air traffic authority Sakaeronavigatsia upgraded its airspace management system at its main Tbilisi centre earlier this year, the first step in the plan - to begin in early 2001 - will be to define future requirements for Georgian airspace and draw up a programme to enable the country to transition eventually to a new air traffic control regime.
In addition to addressing air traffic management issues the US firm will assist Georgian authorities in developing improvement programmes for Tbilisi International Airport as well as other airports around the republic.
The aviation improvement programme will involve redesigning airline route structures, promoting regional co-operation and system interoperability, and creating initiatives for enhancing commercial air transport to the area.
Lockheed Martin ATM president Don Antonucci says that the Georgian agreement is evidence of a new trend in aviation modernisation. He states: "Increasingly we are finding that countries are seeking partners, rather than suppliers, who can work with them to develop long-term technology strategies rather than point solutions.
"This approach not only protects the country's investment in technology but also addresses the multi-faceted issues of countrywide airspace management, such as systems, financing, facilities, training and support."