SA air traffic at risk after satellite navigation data deleted

About 70 airports have been removed from one of the world’s leading satellite navigation systems, compromising air traffic safety in South Africa, the Sunday Times reported.

“The airports have disappeared off the map,” according to a note to pilots published on an aviation web forum by Aircraft Pilots and Owners Association president Chris Martinus.

The airports, including Nelspruit and Stellenbosch, were apparently removed from Boeing’s navigational services subsidiary, Jeppesen, due to an administrative error. Jeppesen said the delisting was due to “missing data”.

This meant pilots could not automatically access information such as geographic location and runway conditions. Instead, they needed to manually enter these airports’ co-ordinates.

The SA Civil Aviation Authority told the Sunday Times there had been no error. Spokeswoman Phindi Gwebu said the “missing” airports had been removed from the local database due to outdated survey data.

She said the matter had been resolved with Jeppesen and the missing data would be restored soon.

“This matter served before the National Airspace Committee on Thursday, and [the] industry is satisfied that safety is not compromised,” Gwebu was quoted as saying.

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SA air traffic at risk after satellite navigation data deleted