Kenya will next week host a meeting of African aviation players to discuss air navigation management, as the African union pushes for open skies.
The meeting, under the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (Canso), will bring together civil aviation heads from more than 30 African countries, who are part of the technical committee on the Open Skies negotiations.
The participants will be pushing for the harmonisation of the continent’s air navigation systems as part of the Open Skies initiative.
“We are hoping to have discussions around Africa’s goal of attaining a universally safe, technically interoperable, procedurally harmonised, efficient and affordable air transport system in Africa,” said Gilbert Kibe, director general of the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA).
The meeting will be chaired by Hamza Johari, the director general of the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA), who is the chair of Canso.
The discussions are expected to feature Africa’s air traffic management safety, the influence of technology as an enabler, and efficiency and effectiveness on the continent.
The meeting will also discuss the integration of remotely piloted systems (RPAS), or drones, into current and evolving air traffic management systems, while ensuring the safety and efficiency of operations.
South Africa and Rwanda have successfully integrated drones within their air navigation systems.
“It will be a perfect learning opportunity for some of us, especially Kenya, which is struggling with regulation. We will hear from our peers in Kigali and Johannesburg on how they integrated the drones into their systems and their experiences so far,” Mr Kibe said.
Last week, Kenya announced that it would ban the use of drones until parliament ratifies regulations to guide their importation and use, a potential setback for the use of the remotely controlled aircraft for humanitarian, health and wildlife conservation.
Two months ago, Kenya’s parliament declined to ratify the Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems Regulations, 2017 citing concerns over some clauses in the proposed regulation.
Technology in air navigation management is disrupting the way Africa civil aviation regulators are doing business, with discussions shifting towards innovative air traffic tower solutions.
“Remote, digital and virtual towers could revolutionise the air traffic control industry by reducing the need for physical control towers, expanding the number of locations receiving services, increasing operating hours and improving continuity of services delivered,” Mr Kibe said.
In May, 25 countries that signed to the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) met in Togo where they pushed for the signing of a memorandum on co-operation between African Civil Aviation Policy, as the executing agency and regional economic blocs, including the EAC.