The dawn of democracy, 20 years ago, opened many a door for South Africa. In the fields of technology, engineering, aviation, medicine, sports and the arts, the country was at a disadvantage. Isolated and seemingly doomed, there were no prospects of successfully competing against its global counterparts.

In 1994, South Africans ushered in a new dispensation through the ballot box, thereby ensuring a smooth transition from an apartheid regime to a new democratic state, where race, sexual orientation and colour and/or creed did not matter in deciding the future of its citizenry.

Almost every year since the birth of democracy, South Africans have witnessed incredible new developments, milestones and achievements of unmatched proportions, and significant events taking place in their motherland. When South Africa became part of the global family, doing business and travelling from one point to another – anywhere – in the world is now normality.

ATNS was established in 1993, 90 years after the invention of powered flight. A lot has changed since then. That year, ATNS embarked on a process of commercialisation designed to re-orientate the company to play a central role as a relevant and credible service provider. ATNS accepted the challenges and realised that in order to be cutting-edge and to best utilise business opportunities, it needed to improve service efficiencies, by providing better and more cost-effective services. This entailed providing infrastructure and refocusing human resource capacity.

ATNS is responsible for air traffic control in approximately ten percent of the world’s airspace. The company’s services extend further than the familiar air traffic control service, into the provision of vitally important aeronautical information used for all flight planning purposes as well as search and rescue coordination activities, and the maintenance of a reliable navigation infrastructure.

South African aviation infrastructure is considered to be one of the best in the world, contributing to the country’s aviation safety record. For its part, ATNS continues to invest wisely in this infrastructure to support the country’s overall transport infrastructure. Through these activities, the company provides significant contributions to the South African and the continent’s aviation industry, thereby promoting safe skies.

For the past 20 years, ATNS has achieved the significant and notable successes within the Air Traffic Management (ATM) environment. The company is a founder-member of the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO), which is the global voice of air navigation service providers (ANSP’s) worldwide. CANSO Members support over 85% of the world’s air traffic.

ATNS has over the years, contributed – immensely – through active participation in CANSO and other global aviation organisations such as the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the International Civil Aviation Organisation. ATNS’ role is that of being part of the global collective that is discussing and making decisions relating to global aviation safety, the environmental impact of aviation in other sectors of the economy and the global cooperation on technology and related innovative ventures. In 2010, ATNS developed an Air Traffic Management (ATM) Roadmap, with the objective of achieving an interoperable, global air traffic management system for all users during all phases of flight, meeting agreed levels of safety; providing for optimum economic operations, be environmentally sustainable and ultimately meet national security requirements.

ATNS Chairs the CANSO Africa region. This office was officially launched in 2012 in Cape Town, during the first-ever CANSO Global Air Traffic Management Safety Conference held on African soil.

The Company has implemented a single repository of aeronautical information, called the Centralised Aeronautical Database (CAD). The CAD ensures amongst others; aeronautical data integrity and quality.

ATNS was instrumental in the successful hosting of the 1995 World Rugby Tournament; the FIFA 2010 World Cup and the 1996 and 2013 AFCON Tournaments in South Africa. This success was based on comprehensive, long term planning that ensured that ATNS made the capacity available to support the demand of the airspace users – during these prestigious events. The dedication and effort of all concerned ensured that ATNS not only met but exceeded the expectations.

Aviation Safety in Africa has been a focal point during recent conferences held in South Africa, for example, The 2012 Africa Aviation Safety Summit and the Airport Expansion and Development Africa 2012 held in Sandton respectively.

While ATNS’ primary business focus remains air traffic management and aviation safety for South Africa, the company’s scope has grown to extend beyond the country’s borders to neighbouring countries and the rest of the continent, including the Indian Ocean region. This enables ATNS to respond efficiently to global challenges, while providing the local aviation industry with air traffic management solutions that rank among the safest in the world.

ATNS has, over the years, encouraged a culture of lifelong learning for employees to develop their full potential, through private study in their professional disciplines. This is done through various institutions of higher learning. Tailor-made internal programs are also offered at our Aviation Training Academy (ATA), to further develop staff at all levels within the organisation.

To ensure adequate staffing at an operational level ATNS has been responsible and continues to be responsible for recruiting, training and developing its staff at an operational level to supply the engineering and air traffic services operational departments. Well trained and skilled support staff is vital to the efficient operations of ATNS.

ATNS has developed a Human Capital Implementation Plan which details the national Air Traffic Services staff requirements necessary to allow successful implementation of the ATNS business concept strategy. The plan takes into account the training success rates, attrition, leave, sick leave as well as other pertinent variables, in order to define the number of recruits that must be brought into ATNS, to achieve the targets for qualified staff. One of the important outputs is a training plan that has set projections, to ensure that training capacity is maximised and that throughput is closely managed.

ATNS is driving the recruitment of Engineering Learnerships from accredited institutions of higher learning. Upon successful completion of the said programs, the students are offered permanent employment within ATNS in the Engineering department. They become a great feeder in to the pool of qualified Engineering Technicians.

The Aviation Training Academy (ATA) has been awarded the IATA Best Aviation Training Academy Award in 2011 and 2012 respectively.

Sustainable research and development is very critical in all spheres of transport, such as aviation. It ensures that the future does not look bleak for successive generations. Simply because ATNS has ensured that proper long term organisational planning is in place.