Air Traffic and Navigation Services (ATNS) company of South Africa, in partnership with the Airport Company of South Africa hosted the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) ‘Fly-In’ at the King Shaka International Airport on 18th February 2012.

At 7am, 22 aircraft approached the airport in various eye-catching and spectacular formations. Regular flight departures and arrivals were not disrupted.

A sizeable number of aviation enthusiasts arrived by road to watch the magnificent display of craft and hobby – all rolled into one.

King Shaka International Airport has hosted similar events in the past. These not only offer training to pilots and air traffic control officers (ATCOs) but also helps to foster a closer working relationship between ATNS (which is mainly responsible for regulated commercial airline environment) and General Aviation (GA) which is unregulated.

One of EAA challenges was finding suitable airspace to fly in without restrictions imposed by controlled airspace and large airports. Increasing costs, such as fuel, having to fit transponders, are a cause for concern within this environment.

Locally, ATNS King Shaka International Airport has been very involved with GA since the building of the new airport was announced, as it necessitated very complex and drastic airspace changes. It was vital not only to involve GA, but also all role players, such as major airlines, SAAF and SAPS.

GA was probably the biggest challenge, as it involved relocating a whole general flying area from where this airport is situated, including routings, micro-light operations and a whole host of associated activities to other areas.

All this planning involved countless hours of consultations and meetings. These activities are still ongoing.

ATNS meets regularly with GA in the region to evaluate its procedures and various airspaces. These interactions have proved to be highly beneficial and as a result ATNS and GA members in the KZN region have built up an excellent working relationship with everyone concerned.

ATNS shall continue with this interaction, and this sort of ‘Fly In’ goes a long way to furthering these relationships.