Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) says the new radar equipment at Kamuzu International Airport (KIA) in Lilongwe will satisfy one of the requirements of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (Icao).
Icao mandates contracting States to have surveillance systems within airports that handle international flights.
Speaking on Friday in Lilongwe on the sidelines of a signing ceremony to mark the completion of the installation of $4.8 million (about K3.5 billion) surveillance equipment, DCA director Alfred Mtilatila said the new system will also help to ensure security and safety of the airport.
The installation of the radar equipment is part of the Government of Japan grant for the expansion of terminal buildings at KIA.
Said Mtilatila: “Looking at the deadline given by Icao that all airports should have this system by 2020, Government of Malawi approached the Government of Japan for assistance to install this surveillance system. In 2017, this project commenced and it has taken just over a year to complete.”
He said the equipment will ensure safety for the country’s airspace because air traffic controllers will be able to see all the aircrafts navigating there.
“Apart from providing the safety net, it also gives a security feature because at times some aircrafts with bad intentions might come into our airspace without broadcasting, and without such equipment, it becomes difficult to detect such aircraft,” said Mtilatila.
Ryuichi Limori, general manager for NEC Corporation, a Japanese information technology service provider, which installed the equipment, said this is a secondary air surveillance radar which can obtain the position of an aircraft in airspace with high accuracy.
“This contributes to safe flights operation and improved efficiency of air traffic control services. This also leads to higher reputation of KIA’s safety of airspace,” he said.
NEC Corporation will also install the flight information display in the new terminal buildings, offer basic training to engineers and provide ongoing capacity building for air traffic control engineers on how to operate and maintain the surveillance system.
KIA has had no radar system since the mid-1990s when the one installed in 1983 at the inauguration of the airport broke down.
Over the years, officers have been providing air navigation services manually by either using visual observation of aircraft or pilot position reports via radio communication.
The new radar equipment is capable of detecting and tracking aircrafts on a monitor from as far as 370 kilometres away.