Somaliland: Civil Aviation Authorities Can with Proper Equipment Effectively Control Airspace


Egal Airport in HargeisaBy: Eng. Hassan Muhumed Aw Hassan

Somalilandsun – Somaliland government took the right decision to ban the UN’s flights from its Airports, after UN disregarded the agreement between the 3 parties and handed the authority of the Somaliland Airspace to Somalia. UN did not even bother to consult with Somaliland about the issue.

I hope Somaliland will stick to its decision until a satisfactory result comes out of it.

I applaud the government the improvement they made to Hargeisa and Berbera Airports. Today both Airports look much better. But what bothers me is an important element is missing from the Airports, and I have not heard from this government and the previous ones talk about it. What are missing are Communication and navigation systems.

Communication system is one of the important pillars of aviation. Without communication system no Aircraft can fly from point A to point B. So, if Somaliland civil Aviation wants to control its Airspace, after this dispute they should setup a communication system and navigational aids in both Airports.

Right now Somaliland Air Traffic Controllers use very high frequency radio(VHF Radio), which uses frequency band between 30 MHz and 300 MHz(M stands for mega = 1 million and Hz stands for hertz or cycles per second). Vhf/ Uhf frequencies are line of sight (LOS) – which means the signal travels in direct path between transmitter and receiver. – . If the planes are beyond the horizon of Hargeisa Airport, the Air traffic controller won’t hear and communicate with the aircrafts, due to vhf radio signals being blocked by the curvature of the earth’s surface. Also, the higher the frequencies, the shorter distance the signal travels. The aircrafts have to communicate with the ATC from take-off to landing.

In order the aircrafts to communicate with the ATC constantly, they use in addition of satellite communications, either vhf/uhf radio frequencies when they are flying over land or they switch to High frequencies (HF) when they are flying over ocean and far beyond line of sight with land based ground communication systems.

To control their airspace, Somaliland civil aviation needs to buy high frequency radio (HF Radio). HF frequency bands are from 3MHz to 30 MHz. HF radio signal skips around the world and bounces from the ionosphere and it can be heard far away. It will make easy for Hargeisa airport to hear and supervise any aircraft within its airspace. They need to have a Transponder (Transponder is 2 words combined together—transmitter and responder–. The Transponder is a communication instrument which sends an electronic identification signal to ground based equipment. Then the controller could use this signal to identify any aircraft within Somaliland airspace and track its position by using a computer. Short range radar enables the air traffic controller to handle and track an aircraft in a 30 to 50 nautical miles (about 35 to 58 miles) radius from the airport. Long range radar will cover all Somaliland airspace.

There are 2 types of HF radios. One type only gives you voice, the other type provides voice, email, data, fax and tracking solutions for ground stations over thousands of miles. They are cheap and can be bought in one week. For the time being, the HF radio will help ATC to monitor all the aircraft flying inside Somaliland airspace, since the pilots have to communicate with the other ATC during their flight.

Good airport should have the following ground based equipment: 1. Communication systems: VHF/UHF radio, HF radio. 2. Navigation aids: Direction measurement equipment (DME). VHF Omni-directional range (VOR). Instrument landing system (ILS). Radar. Non- directional beacon (NDB).

By: Eng. Hassan Muhumed Aw Hassan