Does Entebbe Airport Have a ‘Functioning' Radar System?

Authorities at Entebbe International Airport have refuted claims that Ugandas only airport may be operating with an obsolete radar system.

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Authorities at Entebbe International Airport have refuted claims that Uganda's only airport may be operating with an obsolete radar system.

An air traffic control system or radar is a ground-based service provided to direct aircraft on the ground and through controlled airspace, and can provide advisory services to aircraft in non-controlled airspace.

Air traffic control aims to move aircraft safely and efficiently through the airspace system. Controllers keep aircraft set distances apart while moving them from airport to airport using set routes.

In 2007 in the run up to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), a modern air traffic control radar system was installed at the airport but it broke down before the meeting took place.

Since then there have been queries on whether the broken down radar system was repaired or the airport relies on the radar system run by Uganda National Meteorological Authority.

Addressing a question by Uganda Radio Network during a media tour of upgrading projects at the airport, the Civil Aviation Authority's Manager Communications, Navigation and Surveillance, Eng. Ronny Barongo said a modern radar system is in place and functional.

Eng. Barongo said after the 2007 radar, they installed a new one immediately which was upgraded in 2011. He said early this year the radar system has had a major upgrade which has increased its lifespan for another 10 years.

According to Eng. Barongo, the upgrade was in line with a 2013 recommendation in an audit report by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) which described CAA's performance as “inconsistent, inefficient and insufficient” in many areas.

In the audit report, ICAO recommended that all systems, including the air traffic control radar, be upgraded to accommodate next generation operations including sharing air traffic information, coordination and support performance with neighbouring airports, among others.

Eng. Barongo said the upgraded radar system not only has the capability of sharing radar information but also uses silent communication hence reducing the workload of the operators.

URN was unable to visit the control tower to ascertain Eng. Barongo's claims.

Meanwhile, the CAA acting Managing Director, Dr. David Kakuba, said the airport, with a 9.5-million-dollar grant from the Korean government, is implementing a three-year project to improve air navigation services and automation of the airport.

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Eng. John Kagoro Tusubira, the Director Airports and Aviation Security, said the upgraded airport will have capabilities of communicating with other airports around the world to know beforehand the activities taking place to enable them plan when to land and take-off.