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SITA deploys Africa’s first VHF Digital Link station in time for A380 World Cup trips

SITA deploys Africa’s first VHF Digital Link station in time for A380 World Cup trips

Air transport in Africa received a major boost today with the announcement from SITA that it has established the continent’s first VHF Digital Link (VDL) station in Johannesburg, South Africa, in time to support FIFA World Cup air traffic.

SITA provides the world’s airlines with a global network of 1,200 VHF radio stations for air ground datalink between ground operation centers and the aircraft. SITA is enhancing the service by adding radios providing the new ICAO standard VHF Digital Link service giving 10 times more capacity than traditional VHF ACARS. On May 17, SITA added a VDL radio to its Johannesburg VHF station to support airlines which will be flying A380s into South Africa for the FIFA World Cup.

Philip Clinch, SITA Vice President, Aircraft Solutions, said: “SITA is very proud of its record of supporting air-ground communications in Africa over the last twenty years. We were pleased to respond to a request from the airlines to install this station so that for the first time the bandwidth-hungry applications in A380s are fully supported when they arrive in South African air space.

The SITA AIRCOM customers flying A380’s to Johannesburg for the World Cup include Air France and Lufthansa. Among the first beneficiaries of the new service was the German football team which arrived in Johannesburg on a Lufthansa A380 earlier this week when the VDL station was already in operational mode prior to its official launch today.

Airlines need high-quality real-time voice and data communications with cockpit crew and aircraft systems wherever they are, and must ensure pilots can always communicate with air traffic controllers and airline operations centres.


SITA enables airlines to provide operational information to pilots in real-time and reformats messages to help integrate Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) into the airline’s IT environment. Acting as a central communications hub for airlines, SITA facilitates the provision of up-to-date information to pilots in flight, and enables controller-to-pilot take-off and landing exchanges.

Over the last 25 years SITA has deployed a worldwide VHF/VDL network, evolving with ATI requirements, supporting air-to-ground communications, backed up with satellite, which are used by over 220 airlines and over 10,000 aircrafts worldwide. This network now supports the new generation A380 aircraft flown by airlines such Qantas, Air France, Emirates, Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines.