GOVERNMENT is currently making efforts to raise an estimated US$400 million for the modernisation of the country’s airports, which also includes air navigation systems.Last week, the Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Development, Dr Joram Gumbo, said part of the modernisation project involves expanding the Harare International Airport.“Our budget for the modernisation programme is estimated at US$400 million. Modernisation is an ongoing exercise which we have been undertaking over the years.
“Plans are underway to embark on the Harare International Airport expansion aimed at increasing the airport handling capacity and modernising passenger facilitation systems,” said Dr Gumbo.
Government is also seeking an estimated US$11 million to repair the runway at Harare International Airport to reduce the wear and tear of aircraft tyres. The Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (Zinara) has already extended US$500 000 for the repairs but more funds are still needed.
“The outstanding works on the runway require an estimated US$11 million for completion.
“The resources received were to enable the contractor to re-mobilise and continue with the project while waiting for disbursements from Treasury.
“However, due to other priority commitments, the resources could not be allocated this financial year. CAAZ is mobilising internal resources to continue with the project while being mindful of the safety concerns and risks posed by delays in completing this critical project,” said Dr Gumbo.
Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) will also be considered a viable option to raise funds. Mount Hampden-based Charles Prince Airport is being considered for a PPP arrangement.
The modernisation will also include “all aerodromes” and new airports that are being planned for the Eastern Highlands, Midlands and Beitbridge (Matabeleland South). Modern navigation technologies allow air traffic controllers to queue aircraft more efficiently on approach.
Also, employing modern approaches and technologies will not only improve air capacity but also decrease noise levels on the ground and the amount of pollution generated by the aircraft.
Experts say the stack holding procedure requires aircraft to fly 300 metres apart while spiralling down from 3 400m to 2 000m in preparation for landing.
The new technologies would allow linear holding, in which the planes queue in a straight line at 6 000m.
Queuing at this altitude reduces noise impact at ground level and improves fuel efficiency.
There has been some progress at some local airports.
Already, the terminal buildings at J.M. Nkomo International Airport in Bulawayo and the Buffalo Range Airport in Chiredzi have been modernised and were commissioned in December 2013 and November 2014 respectively. Buffalo Range Airport was modernised through a PPP with the Malilangwe Trust and sugar maker Tongaat Hullet.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) has also acquired a state-of-the-art Air Traffic Control simulator as part of the broader air space management systems modernisation programme, which is guided by the international civil aviation standards and procedures’ requirements with regards to communication, navigation, surveillance and air traffic management system (CNS/ ATM).
The simulator was commissioned early August this year.
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