SITA strikes GACA deal

An aviation body plans to enhance Saudi Arabia's air navigation service by introducing new communication technology.


An aviation body plans to enhance Saudi Arabia's air navigation service by introducing new communication technology.

Saudi Arabia's General Authority of Civil Aviation is teaming up with IT developer SITA to install VHF air-to-ground data systems that cover the country's airspace.

The move comes following the International Civil Aviation Organisation's recommendation to enhance Saudi's air navigation services.

Some 17 SITA VHF ground stations will be built to replace six older generation hubs. Each one will allow pilots to communicate with air traffic controllers (ATC) via data link messaging. The new technology may also enable aircraft to transmit their real-time positions to ATC systems.

The GACA will deploy VHF Digital Link Mode 2 (VDLM2) services at Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam and Madinah international airports.

Engineer Abdallah Mohammed Noor Rhaimy, GACA president, said: "This agreement is an excellent example of a public-private partnership 'win-win' deal. Everyone will realise major benefits from this agreement.

"GACA will own and operate a state-of-the-art VHF Digital Link and VHF infrastructure, and this will enable us to provide our customer airlines with new services that will enhance airspace capacity, safety and efficiency."

Philip Clinch, SITA vice president for aircraft communications, believes the GACA deal marks a new era for the company. "The new partnership with GACA represents a major milestone in SITA's plan to continue its commitment to serve the Middle East in the area of data link applications and services in line with ICAO recommendations," he added.

"SITA's long-established presence in the region is now even stronger through this partnership deal, which allows GACA and SITA's AIRCOM customer airlines to experience all the operational benefits of the latest data link technology provided by SITA."

In 2002, SITA agreed a similar deal with the Spanish civil aviation authorities. Some three years later, the company was called in by Germany's aviation body to install new technology.

"Other Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) can benefit from the SITA investment in VHF data links to create partnerships that provides modern air traffic control communications throughout their regions at minimum cost to the airlines," Clinch said.


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