The UAE FIR is among the smallest and most important blocks of airspace in the world. This is due to the strategic location of the UAE being the link between East and West. Inaugurated in 2009, the Sheikh Zayed Air Navigation Centre (SZC) aims at accommodating the growth in the aviation sector. Soon after inauguration, the Sheikh Khalifa Award was awarded to the SZC for the best technical experience category in recognition to the advanced technologies used at the centre.
The centre represents one of the key infrastructure projects in the UAE, being the largest, most advanced air navigation facility in the Middle East. The main air navigation centre building comprises a 600 sqm air traffic control operations room in addition to other well equipped locations to cover the increase in aviation traffic within the next 20 years, which is expected to reach 2 million movements annually.
The centre handles more than 2300 air traffic movements per day for the 8 international airports in the UAE as well as the over flying movements. The centre hosts 14 air traffic control sectors as well as being a backup facility for some Approach control units.
Since its inception, the General Civil Aviation Authority has laid special emphasis upon training and emiratisation efforts through its departments, especially within the air traffic control field where it has approved an ambitious air traffic controller (ATCO) and Communication, Navigation and Surveillance Systems (CNS) Engineer nationalisation programs. It has also provided all necessary requirements to train highly qualified air traffic controllers, arming the ATC program with the best technical and human capabilities such as advanced simulators and professional trainers who implement a clearly outlined program, as well as qualifying Emirati air traffic controllers capable of dealing with ever-increasing air traffic.
The GCAA initiated in 2011 an air traffic control promotion campaign aiming at increasing the awareness of the UAE society towards the mission and role of air controllers and encouraging youth nationals to join one of the most vital roles, not only in the aviation sector but on the larger scale of specialised occupations.
The campaign mainly targets national youth to encourage them to work in air traffic control and to get them aware of the nationalisation program of the job. The plan spans school, college, university visits and media activities. A team of national air traffic controllers who have successfully completed the program was formed to execute the promotion campaign.
The SZC has been active in updating its Safety Management System (SMS) in accordance with regulation and has as well managed to achieve certification of the Integrated Management System (IMS), which consists of ISO 9001, ISO 14001 for environment and OSAS 18001 for occupational health & safety.
The Sheikh Zayed Air Navigation Centre (SZC)
The General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) of the United Arab Emirates commenced ATS Operations in the Sheikh Zayed Centre for Air Navigation Centre from the 6th of June 2009. The AED 300-million project, completed in early June 2009, is considered the largest and most advanced air traffic management (ATM) facility in the Middle East.
The Centre comprises two main buildings – the air traffic control centre building (ACC) and the Emergency ACC – each of which has been designed to satisfy a range of operational requirements.
Also featuring on the site are four unique design 60m masts for the communications equipment antennas providing a blend of aesthetic quality with practical application. The centre considered autonomous for power providing four levels of fallback from prime power for the main Air Traffic Centre (ATC) equipment.
The Centre equipped with new equipment includes ATM display system, ARTAS and AMHS from Frequentis Comsoft, while integrated voice communication is supplied by Park Air Systems, and the Micro Nav ATC simulator is installed in the Emergency ACC. The Centre has a total of 76 working positions for live ACC, military liaison and emergency/training roles. This represents a tripling of current demand.
The ATM system permits dynamic sectorisation to task individual air traffic controllers in the most safe and efficient manner and with a number of modern tools such as arrival (AMAN), stack management as well as departure flow management systems to optimize traffic handling.
The GCAA is considered the pioneer in areas such as integration of ADS-B in the surveillance picture through the ARTAS tracker, which was installed in the centre on 01 June 2009, design and operational implementation of RNAV 1 routes both for en-route and in terminal environments. Together, these modernisation programmes serve to alleviate traffic congestion, minimise delays, shorten routes and create the capacity necessary for sustained growth in air traffic necessary for the economic well-being of the country.
Some achievements of GCAA SZC
1. Selection of the SZC for the Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Award for Best Technical Initiative Submission and Supervision.
2. The launch of AviPedia (Aviation Encyclopedia) - the new electronic
learning center for aviation. It aims to enhance and strengthen the knowledge
and professional awareness in most aviation aspects.
3. The successful implementation of the UAE Airspace Coordination and
Contingency Cell (UACACC) and its evolution to a web based platform.
4. The in-house development of an Arrival Manager (AMAN) serving the
busiest airport in the Middle East.
5. The ongoing ATC promotion campaign which publicises the ATC profession
among UAE Nationals.
6. The UAE GCAA was declared as the first country in the world to establish the Aeronautical Message Handling System, connecting three countries namely, Oman, Jordan and Qatar to the UAE.
7. The first country in the Middle East to implement the RNAV 1 En-route.
8. The first county to introduce the ADS-B in the Middle East.
9. The front runner in the Middle East in preparedness and compliance with the ICAO’s plans of introducing the New FPL system globally from 15 November 2012.
10. OLDI – On Line Data Interchange – First in the Middle East internally linking the SZC with Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ras al Khaimah and internationally with Bahrain, Oman and Qatar.
11. Paperless ATC System – another first in the Middle East.
12. Leed Gold Certification - LEED provides a framework to create healthy, highly efficient and cost-saving green buildings. LEED certification is a globally recognized symbol of sustainability achievement.
13. Full Safety Management System Automation.
With the continued support of our Stakeholders, we strive to continuously evolve our ATM and to maintain and consolidate our leadership with the ANS (Air Navigation Services) globally.