A South African company is to market technology to allow low-cost air traffic tracking at small airports where radar systems are not cost-effective. The system would provide air traffic controllers with detailed graphical information on aircraft and their positions by using GPS satellite navigation information collected by the aircraft's navigation systems.

Orbtech Holdings, a division of Midrand, South Africa-based vehicle tracking systems developer Celtron International, has purchased the provisional patents for the system, and says it could revolutionise the safety of flight in uncontrolled airspace.

The system receives GPS information using standard radio equipment. A PC-based user interface displays aircraft at their true position, together with altitude, distance from base station, ground speed, registration and type. The system can warn of potential collisions, and logs aircraft arrivals and departures and all voice communication.

"If a pilot should go down at any time, the immediate positional information would be available to emergency search and rescue teams," says Orbtech. Celtron and Orbtech hope the technology will also be used by aero clubs.

Source: Flight International