Air traffic predicted to double in the next 15 years

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The International Civil Aviation Authority says it expects the air traffic of passengers and goods to double in the next 15 years.

This also means that civil aviation authorities will look to improve on technological advances in flight inspection, navigation and surveillance.

Durban is hosting delegates at the International Flight Inspection Symposium on behalf of the International Committee for Airspace Standards and Calibration.

This is the first time that the biennial International Flight Inspection Symposium is being held in Africa. Delegates from across the world will use the week to explore new technologies that could save costs. Gawie Bestbier, Executive for Aviation Infrastructure at the South African Civil Aviation Authority, says among the talking points, the symposium will look at ways to minimise costs in the flight inspection industry.

“The focus of this week is what happens in technology in the last two years where the industry gets together to do a stock take of  the technology out there, what are the requirements, the space based systems is getting more and we know that the space based system is controlled by the sovereignty of the nation itself. There is an issue of how do you celibate these things currently, they use big expensive craft to fly in different profiles. We have drone technology emerging I expected this week to yield a lot of drone technology to cover a bit of costs that is normally associated and it makes it difficult for poorer countries to regularly calibrate their navigation and their projects.”

Bestbier says there is a small number of flight inspection units across the world.

“Drone technology will go a long way in reducing those costs. It will also allow you to have frequency of checking systems in other words you make it safer over time that is why I reckon it is going to pop out this week. It is all about reducing the costs, hence you might have seen there has been a lot of accidents in this area of operation. There is not many flight inspection units in the world but there is quite a high number of accidents because they fly close to obstacles, they fly close to the ground, they do not fly like normal airlines in essence they test drive systems or set up so if you can use drones, it will alleviate all those risks by all means.”

Comair liquidation concerning

Deputy Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga says the liquidation of low-cost airline Comair is concerning, with this resulting in a loss in airport tariffs. But she says there is little government can do, since the affected airlines are privately owned.

Chikunga says however they will monitor the situation to see if there are airlines that are interested in taking over these lines.

“There is nothing that you can do when it comes to airlines because they are privately owned, many of them except for the state owned airlines like SAA. The impact of COVID-19 on the aviation sector with airlines, it is massive and many, not only in South Africa, have gone under and have liquidated. It is not something that we would want to see because it impacts on our state owned companies. Remember in a ticket that you take there are tariffs and if any of the airlines are going under, it actually means that it is minus actually the number of aircrafts landing at your airport for instance. But what we would like to see happening or maybe what we will monitor closely is to see whether there are airlines that are ready to take those routes.”

Chikunga says most airlines are under strain due to the COVID-19 pandemic and rising fuel costs.