Thales to provide navigation aids for St Helena's new airport

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Thales has won the contract to provide the navigation aids for St Helena's first and only airport, planned to open in early 2016 for this remote, inhabited South Atlantic island which has only ever had sea links with the rest of the world.

Initially Thales-installed systems will include an instrument landing system for precision guidance on final approach to the 1,550m (5,100ft) runway, a Doppler VHF omni-directional radio range system (DVOR) for bearing, and a distance measuring equipment installation for range information.

The island's mountainous terrain makes even the airport's location on Prosperous Bay Plain on the island's east coast a challenging place to operate. Also its long distance from the nearest airports on Ascension Island 703nm (1,300km) to the north-west and Lubango, Angola, 1,300nm to the east mean that diversion fuel will be a payload penalty, and extended range twin-engine operation (ETOPS) regulations will apply to the Airbus A319 or Boeing 737-700 flights that would be able to land there.

Marion Broughton, head of Thales UK's aerospace business, says: "Thales is delighted to be working with [South African construction company] Basil Read on this prestigious project and is committed to ensuring that airports such as St Helena's are fitted with cutting-edge systems to keep their skies safe".