Igor Salinger/BELGRADE

The Yugoslav Air Traffic Controllers Association (YATCA) has warned that equipment used by the country's Federal Air Traffic Control Authority (FATCA) is "too old and unreliable" and that the system is inadequate for handling the levels of air traffic being experienced.

FATCA concedes that the country's ATC system will require a $5 million investment to upgrade it, but says that there are no safety implications. The authority is responsible for all flights in Yugoslav airspace, except over Kosovo, and above flight level 290 over part of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

"During the course of the year we frequently had malfunctions of basic technical devices and vital parts of the ATC system and we currently have no backup ones," says Milan Jesic, YATCA president. More controllers are needed to handle the amount of air traffic in Yugoslavia, which has experienced a 20% rise in overflights since 1998, it adds. YATCA has called for "urgent measures" to be taken by FATCA, the Federal Ministry of Transport, the Federal Flight Inspectorate and the prime minister.

General Branko Bilbija, FATCA director says there are no service quality and safety issues concerning the Yugoslav ATC system, adding that the country has experienced no near misses or incidents.

FATCA deputy director Marjan Kamenarovic says that although Yugoslavia's ATC equipment works, it is not fully compatible with European standards. "Our flight data processing system has showed some weakness in its software. He adds that there have also been problems with ground lines, largely due to the damage inflicted during NATO's Operation Allied Force.

Bilbija estimates that more than $100 million worth of ATC system damage was inflicted by Operation Allied Force.

Source: Flight International