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General News Fri, 29 Jan 1999

Civil aviation and US sign air navigation feasibility study agreement

Accra (Grater Accra), 29 Jan. '99 - The Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) and the United States government today signed a 225,000 dollars grant for a feasibility study of Ghana's national air navigation system. The grant, which was made available by the US Trade and Development Agency (TDA), will determine how the GCAA can replace ground-based air navigation systems with satellite-based ones. Wing Commander Andy Mensah, Director-General, GCAA, signed on behalf of his organisation while the American Ambassador, Ms Kathryn Dee Robinson, initialled for the USTDA. The transition from ground to satellite-based systems forms part of GCAA's implementation of Communications, Navigation, Surveillance for Air Traffic Management (CNS/ATM) technologies and Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) satellite systems. The analysis of the feasibility study which will cover a period of six months will serve as a primary source document for GCAA's investment decisions and acquisition time tables for the next 10 years. Mr Steve Akorli, Deputy Minister of Road and Transport, said the growth in Ghana/US co-operation has created an enabling investment environment for investors to focus their attention on Ghana. He said safety and security are central to any effective aviation environment that is why the new satellite navigation and air traffic system which would enhance safety in aviation must be commended. Mr Akorli said the signing of the agreement has come at an opportune time, especially when government is considering the proposal of the US ''Open Skies'' policy which will increase the volume of traffic into the Accra Flight Information Region (FIR). W. Cdr Mensah said flight safety has always been a critical consideration of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and that all its contracting member-states participating in the delivery of air traffic services are enjoined to provide a safe and orderly civil air transport globally. He said Ghana and for that matter the GCAA as the primary centre for the provision of air navigation and air traffic services in the Accra FIR covering the air space of Ghana, Togo and Benin, therefore, must align itself with ICAO resolutions. ''Such an initiative, we believe, will re-emphasize GCAA's mission to be a leader in aviation safety and security, at least, in Africa, and to make the government's Gateway programmes successful''. W. Cdr. Mensah said the current ground-based system is 13 years old and it is difficult to obtain parts while some of the existing micro-wave systems are installed at remote sites without electric power, thereby making the use of it somehow unreliable. He hoped that the co-operation between the two countries in the civil aviation field would continue to grow. Ms Robinson noted that the modernisation of the air navigation system is in keeping with the prominent role Ghana has played in the promotion of civil aviation safety and security in the sub-region and the world as a whole. She said the improvement in air traffic management will enhance safer skies for the Ghanaian flying public and the thousands of tourists who visit the country by air each year.

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