Space weather and its impact on aviation

The importance of space weather and the effect it has on aviation is becoming more evident as aviation uses more performance driven technologies like GPS/GNSS for navigation and within aircraft avionics. Space weather can disrupt these technological systems, including satellite and airline operations, communication networks, navigation systems, and the electric power grid, basically effect all aviation areas as we know it.

Space weather is currently being monitored by the South African National Space Agency (SANSA), in order to meet the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) recommendations for the provision and access to space weather information by 2017.

As space weather could have a significant effect on the operations and service provision of ATNS, ATNS is collaborating with SANSA to enable the sharing of resources, experiences and training activities between the organisation, to meet the needs of the Aviation Community.

ATNS and SANSA is currently finalising an MoU detailing areas of co-operation to establish a mutually beneficial relationship. This ensures that ATNS plays a leading role in defining and collecting operational data and assisting with the assessment of the effects space weather has on the Aviation Community. This will allow ATNS to implement suitable plans to mitigate the risk space weather has on aviation operations within South Africa and the region. The drivers of this initiative within ATNS is the ATM and Applied Research and Development departments.