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New radar system for Gabriel Mugabe Airport

by Staff reporter
30 May 2023 at 06:41hrs | Views
A new state-of-the-art radio navigation system capable of communicating with at least 200 airplanes at a time has been installed at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport as part of the US$153 million expansion of the airport.

RGM International Airport is set to become a regional aviation hub able to handle about 6 million passengers annually, from the present 2,5 million.

The upgrading of the facilities at RGM airport is expected to see more international airlines opening routes into Harare and a corresponding increase in tourist arrivals.

The new work at the airport will be handed over to the Airports Company of Zimbabwe next month with refurbishment of the older terminal area set to be finished by December.

Travellers will start using the extension by the end of June as the Government continues its drive to enhance aviation infrastructure in line with global standards.

Developing an efficient air transport system is critical in enhancing economic growth in line with the country's aspirations as expressed under the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1).

This project has set the tone for massive transformation in the aviation and tourism sectors.

Yesterday, Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Felix Mhona commissioned the new equipment at the airport, purchased through the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe, as well as an Aviation Training Academy of Zimbabwe that has been set up by the authority.

The equipment is called the Air Navigation Aids: the Doppler High Frequency Omnidirectional Range and Distance Measuring Equipment (DVOR-DME).

These are an International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) standard navigational aid, that assists aircraft in their approach by sending omnidirectional signals from ground radio beacons, located at airports and runways. These signals are sent from transmitters located in a network of DVOR stations.

Speaking at the event, Minister Mhona said the equipment was able to communicate with at least 200 planes at one-go within their airspace.

"I wish to congratulate the CAAZ Board and management and the ACZ Board and management for collaborating with our project Contractor, China Jiangsu in the installation of the air navigation aids.

"Furthermore, allow me to appreciate the ATAZ management for working closely with the CAAZ Board in curating the human capital development initiative we are launching today, the ATAZ.

"I am delighted to draw your attention to the first project we are commissioning today: The Air Navigation Aids, in particular the Doppler High Frequency Omnidirectional Range and Distance Measuring Equipment (DVOR-DME)."

"For the benefit of our stakeholders and the media, the DVOR is a radio navigation system, used to aid aircraft in determining their flight position and direction in relation to their destination, using very high frequency signals of between 108.00 to 117.95 MHz sent from a radio beacon," he said.

He said the newly commissioned air navigation aids were an integral component of the RGM International expansion project.

"These aids are ground based, with high-level aptitudes to transmit Omni-directional signals which enable aircraft to determine their bearing relative to the location of the beacon. The aids have all the qualities that are necessary in order to make our airspace safe by avoiding congestion.

"They also combine quality with exceptional value for money; employ state-of-the-art technology and are easy to use. The aids require minimal maintenance and are readily usable in the most severe climatic conditions.

"These aids put to rest some sceptics who have been doubting the capabilities of our air navigation and surveillance systems. At one point in time, I challenged the "doubting Thomases of our time" to try us and discreetly operate their aviation equipment and see if we will not be able to locate them. Today, I stand tall and mature to challenge them even more!" Minister Mhona said.

He assured their aviators and the travelling public of the Government's commitment to ensuring safety and security in their airspace.

"This is the ethos that is deeply entrenched in my Ministry and runs deep into the vision of our aviation actors, manifesting through our regulator, CAAZ, working closely with our airports and aerodromes operator, ACZ, national ground handler, NHS and our airline operator, Air Zimbabwe and several other stakeholders operating behind the scenes.

"This project is one of the several testimonies of the Government's commitment towards infrastructure refurbishment and modernisation. These air navigation aids we are commissioning today are by no means the only modernisation projects we are embarking on, as there are two more projects at different stages of implementation," he said.

"The Air Traffic Control Communication Systems. Under this project, our seven airports and sites will receive new ground to air radio communication systems for more effective communication between the air traffic controllers and aircraft in our national airspace. Delivery and installation of the equipment shall be completed by the end of August.

"The Secondary Surveillance Radar Systems are the installation of two secondary surveillance radar systems at RG Mugabe and JM Nkomo Airports which shall be undertaken by the last quarter of 2023. Indeed, these projects demonstrate our resolve to adhere to the ICAO safety standards we have committed to."

The other project is the Aviation Training Academy of Zimbabwe which Minister Mhona said was Zimbabwe's fully accredited approved training organisation for courses in aviation security, air navigation and safety.

These are highly regulated programmes which must abide by international regulatory standards.

"According to the NDS 1, for Zimbabwe to realise the thrust of improved research development and innovation throughput, Government commits to: Equip training, research and development institutions with state-of-the-art infrastructure; engage private, public and other stakeholders to develop state of the art training and research infrastructure through partnership arrangements for the commercialisation of various aspects of the economy. Indeed, the ATAZ project dovetails with the aspirations of NDS 1," Minister Mhona said.

He said Zimbabwe continues to make huge strides in economic development through promoting research-based training, adoption of science and technology, research, and innovation, which then translates into industrialisation and development.

He wanted all to continue with President Mnangagwa's hands-on approach to development, and passion for ensuring that no persons and no places are left behind. "Indeed, his vision is manifesting in these projects which we are commissioning today.

"His illuminating mantra of a Zimbabwe which has opened for business, his unyielding conviction and passion for solutions which reside in the call for nyika inovakwa nevene vayo, have echoed far and wide, and have become our guiding developmental campuses," Minister Mhona said.

On the RGM International expansion, Minister Mhona said he was happy that they had met the target and tenants will start moving in two weeks' time to occupy space.

"I am happy and this is the only time I start bragging about being in the Second Republic, when we start projects we complete. And this is one of the major milestones as the Ministry of Transport where we have completed just on time. And when we were talking about this, I remember two years ago it was just a shell and people were saying, is this going to be completed, you know our doubting Thomases and I am happy that as we talk, two weeks from now, people or tenants will be moving in to take space and we are going to give, close to a month so that they can occupy space and we have done finalising in terms of testing our systems and we are ready to go.

"So you find it in terms of completion, by end of June we would have completed and people would have moved in and we would wait from his wise counsel Dr. Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa to come and officially commission but the project would be done. But I am happy that we also managed to traverse and also go through the infrastructure which is now even, the equipment within the airport is quite amazing," he said.

Minister Mhona said there was still space to expand the airport if there was need to do so.

The event was attended by CAAZ chairperson Advocate Theophilus Gambe, CAAZ director general Dr Elijah Chingosho and senior government officials.

Source - The Herald
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