49TH General Assembly of IFATSEA opens in Accra

The 49th General Assembly of the International Federation of Air Traffic Safety Electronics Association (IFATSEA) is underway in Accra to explore new ways of leveraging technology and innovation to grow the aviation sector.

The five-day event is on the theme “Air Travel Safety Electronics Personnel (ATSEPs) Contribution to Global Aviation: Assuring Safety, Delivering Air Traffic Management/Communication, Navigation and Surveillance (ATM/CNS) Critical Infrastructure Performance.”

It was attended by aviation industry representatives, experts and regulators from across the globe.

Opening the event, Vice President Alhaji Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, in a statement read on his behalf, said expected growth in air traffic volumes required safety risks that must be properly addressed with appropriate regulatory frameworks, air navigation infrastructure and availability of skilled human resources including ATSEPs.

In this regard, he stated that government has undertaken a number of reforms and initiatives including infrastructure development and the formulation of strategic policies aimed at repositioning the country as an aviation hub in Africa.

Internationally, the country was working with key stakeholders in the sector in support of the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO) ‘No Country Left Behind Initiative (NCLB) designed to enhance compliance with the United Nation aviation agency’s standards and recommended practices as well as the development of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM).

Closely related to the SAATM, the Vice President said, was the African Continental Free Trade Area which would create a tariff-free continent to enable business growth, accelerated industrialisation and job creation in Africa.

Director General of the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), Simon Allotey, said projections and statistics by the ICAO indicate that Africa presents the highest potential growth out of all the UN aviation agency’s global regions.

He said although the predicted growth offers positive prospects for Africa’s 1.3 billion inhabitants, the aviation industry’s workforce was fast shrinking due to ageing populations, lowering birth rates and other attrition factors.

In response to the challenges, he noted that the GCAA was training talented engineers abroad and the GCAA training academy had facilitated the licensing of ATSEPs with 17 gone through the process successfully and several others pursuing it at an advanced stage.

He said Ghana further constituted and inaugurated a State Safety Programme (SSP) Implementation Team which was required under Annex 19 of the Chicago Convention in 2017 and was currently developing directives on Safety Management System.

Additionally, the GCAA has also developed a National Plan for Aviation System Block Upgrades (ASBU) aimed at enhancing ATM performance, Mr Allotey added.

Mr Thorsten Wehe, President of IFATSEA, explained that despite recent technological growth which has enabled civil aviation operations, there was the need for effective collaborative solutions to ensure sustainable development of global air transport system and promote safety and security.

He said this year’s Assembly would focus on review of latest trends and developments, discuss common challenges and practical solutions in a bid to spur aviation sector.

BY CLAUDE NYARKO ADAMS

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