In order to stay in line with global trends and to cope with growing levels of traffic, ZACL has embarked on a US$ 40 million modernisation programme, with government support, to upgrade the nation’s air traffic management system to world-class standards.
The modernisation programme was initiated under the 2011-2016 strategic plan and now continues under the 2017-2021 strategic plan.
Aeronautical Information Services
Aeronautical information services (AIS) are used to receive and transmit the aviation information needed for safe and efficient aircraft operations.
There has been a paradigm shift in the role of aeronautical information. It is used by air traffic management (ATM) to achieve positive benefits through greater use of data communication between aircraft and various ground systems linked into a single global network, with less human intervention. The growing use of globally interconnected networks has opened the way to a fast exchange of information across the world.
ZACL has begun the process of transition from aeronautical information services (AIS) to aeronautical information management (AIM), which will improve its aeronautical services in terms of quality, timeliness and exchange of aeronautical information. These improvements will lead to cost-efficient provision of services to aeronautical information users.
ZACL is also committed to improving its performance-based navigation (PBN) capabilities to meet the growing demand from aeronautical stakeholders for Zambia to improve route and airspace efficiency.
A critical part of PBN implementation is the need for accurate and reliable data for the implementation of PBN procedures in accordance with ICAO PBN Manual and ICAO 9881. This project will allow ZACL to acquire the necessary aeronautical data; to establish a terrain and obstacle data management process; and finally to be able to handle both conventional and non-conventional instrument flight procedures.
Wide Area Network
In order to achieve an efficient exchange of information across the organisation, it is vital for all the airports to be linked so they can share information.
A nationwide private network is being established to link all airports and equipment sites. The necessary licences have been acquired and site surveys concluded. This will boost operational efficiency and improve equipment performance through reliable information exchange right across the organisation.
Voice communication between controller and pilot is necessary for ATM to ensure safe aircraft operations and to avoid collisions.
The provision of air traffic voice communication is divided into the lower airspace, below flight level 24,500 feet and upper airspace above flight level 24,500. There have been upgrades over the past 10 years to improve coverage in the upper airspace communication segment of the Zambian airspace. Further improvements are currently in progress to enhance system reliability and coverage.
ZACL has upgraded the associated tower and approach control equipment to improve communication in the lower airspace at Kenneth Kaunda and Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula International Airports.
Rural Aerodrome Communications
Zambia’s rural aerodromes – Chipata, Kasama, Mansa, Mongu and Solwezi – provide basic aerodrome control through ground-to-air radio communication and other ancillaries.
There are plans to upgrade the frequencies and ancillaries of the rural aerodrome communications system. This will lead to an improvement in safety as well as attracting more local airlines to serve those provinces.
Radar is a basic surveillance tool for the controller to monitor and maintain safe separation between aircraft and to help pilots navigate safely. A new radar has now been installed at Kenneth Kaunda and Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula International Airports.
The two radars installed in Lusaka and Livingstone are unable to cover the whole country, so new technologies such as automatic dependence surveillance (ADS-B) will be considered in order to achieve total coverage of Zambian airspace in the new strategic plan.
Ground-Based Navigation Aids
Navigation equipment is used to guide aircraft moving from one point to another. The ZACL plan is to move from conventional navigation, which relies on ground-based equipment, to performance-based navigation (PBN), whose operations rely primarily on the global navigation satellite system (GNSS).
Taking into account the fact that most of the general aviation fleet of aircraft operating in Zambia are not equipped for GNSS procedures, some ground-based navigation aids will be retained, while ground-based navigation aids will be added or changed in selected areas depending on the outcome of the airspace study recommendations. Ground-based navigation aids will coexist with GNSS for a time, thus allowing non-PBN-equipped aircraft to maintain safe and reliable flight operations.