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Monday, 27 October 2008

Boosting Lusaka International's safety...

ZNBC News reported last week that the Government (or more specifically the parastatal NACL?) plans to purchase new air navigation control system for Lusaka International Airport :

Air navigating kit bought (ZNBC News) : The Zambian government has mobilized over $10-million to buy new air navigation control equipment for the Lusaka International Airport.

Assistant Secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Communications John Chipuwa says bids for the supply of the new landing system are currently being evaluated.

Mr Chipuwa said this in Lusaka Saturday during commemorations to mark this year's Air Traffic Controllers Day which fell on 20th October. He said the government fully appreciates the work of local traffic air controllers in enhancing air travel safety.

And Guild of Air Traffic Controllers Association of Zambia president Peter Mazombwe observed that currently there is a shortage of qualified air traffic controllers in Zambia and the world over. Captain Mazombwe said his association will continue working with other stakeholders in an effort to enhance air travel safety.

As always the headline ZNBC News headline title is a bit misleading, since nothing has been bought yet, however, it is good to see government / NACL looking into this. A previous blog Radar-less Lusaka International Airport? noted the current predicament. Unfortunately, the article is unclear on what type of equipment government has in mind, perhaps thats the subject of the "bids". But it is good that they are looking at this issue seriously. I would say, that what Zambia should be looking at is the Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B). I am told by experts in this area that this is a cheap technology, easy to maintain and suited for countries in the developing world such as ours. Tanzania has it.

Separately, Peter Mazombwe is definitely spot on with regards the need to invest in soft infrastructure - human capital. The Zambian Air Services Training Institute for example must be considered as critical to aviation development. I think the institute should be privatised to allow it to expand and grow. It has good staff and good students. We can become an exporter of pilots in the region if we made it private.

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