Sir - The editorial "Outside control" (Flight International, 8-14 January) raises important issues.

Contrary to some assertions, the situation in large areas of the African continent is mainly stable, with air-traffic services (ATS) being provided to a satisfactory level for today's operations.

There remain, however, flight information regions (FIRs) where services do not meet requirements. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is particularly concerned with with routes between South Africa and Europe.Traffic to and from South Africa has shown rapid growth, especially on certain routes and within many FIRs. It is within these that the incidents to which you refer are being reported - notably in two FIRs central to the route axis.

Projects have been initiated by the states, in co-operation with IATA and the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), responding directly to deficiencies in fixed and mobile communications. The most interesting is the South African Development Community (SADC) Very Small Aperture Satellite Communications project, designed to meet all fixed-link requirements between the states of the SADC area, plus Zaire. The project should also satisfy the urgent requirements for improved VHF mobile communications. Similar projects are under way in other states.

It is not possible, however to resolve and implement the technical issues without addressing the underlying institutional issues. Creation of multi-national ATS agencies is in hand, but their institutional framework will be critical.

Your own proposed solutions are valid and are being pursued in parts of the region. In addition, IATA is developing similar proposals for the forthcoming ICAO AFI/7 Regional Air Navigation meeting.

Satellite automatic dependent surveillance and the establishment of multi-national ATS units are at best medium- to long-term answers. Current difficulties demand solutions now.

IATA will continue to co-operate with African states, and with ICAO, to bring about cost-effective remedies in an appropriate time frame.


Senior Director, Operations & Infrastructure

International Air Transport Association

Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Source: Flight International