Saudi Arabia expands aircraft data coverage

In response to ICAO recommendations to enhance the country’s air navigation service, the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) of Saudi Arabia, is to introduce VHF air-to-ground data communication services, over the country’s entire airspace in partnership with SITA.

Engineer Abdallah Mohammed Noor Rhaimy, GACA President, said: “This agreement is an excellent example of a public-private partnership ‰-win-win deal. Everyone will realise major benefits from this agreement. GACA will own and operate a state-of-the-art VHF Digital Link and VHF infrastructure and this will enable us to provide our customer airlines with new services that will enhance airspace capacity, safety and efficiency. At the same time, SITA will continue to strengthen its position as the leading provider of aircraft communications in the region.”

GACA will deploy 17 SITA VHF Ground Stations that will expand SITA‰€ s existing coverage and replace six older generation VHF ground stations, by providing data link coverage services over the entire domestic airspace of Saudi Arabia.

Recognising the need for increased bandwidth at the major airports and in preparation for the implementation of the ICAO-defined Aeronautical Telecommunication Network (ATN), GACA will also deploy VHF Digital Link Mode 2 (VDLM2) services at Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam and Madinah international airports.

The VHF Ground Stations will deliver air-to-ground data communications services for both GACA’s air navigation service applications, and airline applications for SITA‰€ s AIRCOM customer airlines. The air navigation service applications to be supported will allow pilots and air traffic controllers to communicate using data link messages as well as providing aircraft with the possibility of transmitting their real time position information to air traffic control systems for display to air traffic controllers.


The expanded data link coverage will also support the delivery of digital Automatic Terminal Information Service and Departure Clearance services as recommended by the ICAO Planning and Implementation Regional Group, the MIDANPIRG.

Philip Clinch, SITA Vice President, Aircraft Communications, said: “The new partnership with GACA represents a major milestone in SITA‰€ s plan to continue its commitment to serve the Middle East in the area of data link applications and services in line with ICAO recommendations. SITA’s long-established presence in the region is now even stronger through this partnership deal which allows GACA and SITA’ s AIRCOM customer airlines to experience all the operational benefits of the latest data link technology provided by SITA.”

He also recalled that this agreement follows on similar agreements made between SITA and AENA-Spain in 2002, and between SITA and DFS-Germany in 2005. ‰€?Other Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) can benefit from the SITA investment in VHF data links to create partnerships that provides modern air traffic control communications throughout their regions at minimum cost to the airlines,‰€? said Clinch.