Efforts to unify airspace over sections of Africa have taken a step forward after US authorities agreed to fund a study to establish a single flight information region for three east African countries.

Under the scheme, upper airspace over Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda would be overseen by a single area control centre. The US Trade and Development Agency is backing a feasibility study through a $566,000 grant to the East African Community (EAC). “In addition to gains in efficiency and safety it is expected that there will be fewer delays for airspace users and less strain on air traffic controllers,” says the EAC.

It adds that the grant, supplied as part of the “Safe Skies for Africa” initiative, will be used to assess the technical and economic feasibility of the plan and provide an implementation framework. Unified airspace plans are not new to Africa, but progress on them has been slow. Among the more ambitious projects has been the attempt to create a single upper airspace control centre for the 14 South African Development Community (SADC) states, which embrace many of the countries south of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and include Mauritius and the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean. Tanzania, now part of the new three-state study with Kenya and Uganda, is also an SADC member. Approved in principle by SADC transport ministers in 2000, it would provide air traffic control above flight level 245 (24,500ft/7,500m).

International Civil Aviation Organisation task force members have previously recommended that several groups of African states should explore the possibility of forming combined flight information regions.

Source: Flight International