Dh300m air traffic control centre opened

Saif Mohammed Al Suwaidi and Hassan Mohammed Hassan Karam tour the new centre yesterday. (JOSEPH J CAPELLAN) 

The UAE General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) yesterday inaugurated the Mena region's largest air traffic control complex built at a cost of Dh300 million.

The GCAA Sheikh Zayed Centre, near Abu Dhabi International Airport, will be fully operational in June covering the entire UAE airspace, including that used by the country's air force.

"The entire complex with the most advanced technologies and equipment has been developed with a cost of Dh300m. This is the soft-opening; the complex will be fully operational in June.

"The work on the project began in 2006 and will be completed in June. There has been some delays in the work, but those are not related to the current recession," Hassan Mohammed Hassan Karam, Director of Air Navigation Services at GCAA, told Emirates Business.

The GCAA Sheikh Zayed Centre has two main buildings – Air Traffic Control Centre (ACC) and the emergency Air Traffic Centre – in addition to four antenna towers with 60m masts.

"The complex has a total of 76 work positions for live ACC, military liaison and emergency-cum-training roles. We will soon be moving the current air traffic centre in Bateen and its entire operation to this complex. The Bateen centre that has only eight positions with their controllers [all UAE nationals] will now operate from here," Karam said.

According to Saif Mohammed Al Suwaidi, GCAA Director-General, the entire complex will be a autonomous unit with a full backup system. "The emergency ACC, which is also used for training local navigators and controllers with simulating equipment, is identical and isolated from the main ACC as a backup. Both buildings have their own independent power and energy sources. If anything were to go wrong in the main building, the emergency building will be used as the operating centre," Al Suwaidi said.

The main ATC, according to Karam, can accommodate traffic growth for 20 years.