In the wake of air traffic controller’s shortage at the Bandaranaike International Airport control tower, the aviation ministry has taken measures to fully digitalize air traffic operations.
The Main Air Traffic Control Tower and the RADAR Operations Centre at Bandaranaike International Airport have initiated operations utilizing full digital technology, the aviation ministry announced.
These advancements are integral components of the ongoing modernization process to enhance Air Traffic Control operations at the airport.
The financial investment made by Airport and Aviation Services (Sri Lanka) Ltd to establish this cutting-edge system amounts to approximately Rs. 1.2 billion.
Sri Lanka is on the brink of a major aviation ‘breakdown’ due to lack of Air Traffic Controllers’ who have migrated in large numbers to Oman and other countries for unmatched financial benefits.
An official from the Air Traffic Controllers’ Association (SLATCA) said Sri Lanka should have 150 air traffic controllers to man airports in Katunayake, Ratmalana, Mattala and Jaffna but they currently have only around 80.
It’s the Civil Aviation Authority that produces air traffic controllers and though it’s a one-year Course it takes around 10 years to produce a highly qualified staffer. Due to national security issues, the private sector is not keen to train Air Traffic Controllers.
Air traffic controllers organize the flow of air traffic and prevent collisions. “If an air traffic controller makes a mistake over a flight, it can crash, killing hundreds of passengers.”
With a view of tackling this issue and to modernizing the air traffic control system, the inauguration of this latest Digital Air Traffic Management System took place yesterday, presided over by the Hon. Minister of Ports, Shipping, and Aviation, Nimal Siripala de Silva.
Previously, Air Traffic Controllers manually documented information pertaining to departing and arriving aircrafts, a process managed between the Air Traffic Control Tower and the RADA Centre.
The introduction of the latest Air Traffic Management System facilitates real-time dissemination of essential data to pertinent nodes.
This innovation expedites and optimizes all air navigation services within Sri Lankan airspace, accommodating an increased volume of aircraft through the implementation of this state-of-the-art system.
In contrast to its predecessor, the new system boasts superior technological capabilities. While the former system could solely measure the cruising altitude, position, and airspeed of an aircraft, the latest system at the airport enables the acquisition of comprehensive data directly from the aircraft cockpit.
This enhancement results in a 100% improvement in data accuracy concerning the safety of aircrafts.