A beacon of safety in AviAssist support for Dutch initiative in Zambia

Sustainability and safety have come together thanks to the AviAssist Foundation to improve flight safety in Zambia.

Tom Kok, director of AviAssist - delighted with the Dutch-Zambian project (Image LVNL)

The Foundation, Air Traffic Control the Netherlands (LVNL) and the Zambia Airports Company (ZACL) worked together to not only to improve flight safety in Zambia, but also ensuring re-use of high-quality materials rather than discarding.

This was done with a donation of 12 non-directional beacons (NDB) to ZACL.

“The navigation beacons have served us well for many years, received excellent maintenance, and are nowhere near the end of their technical lifespan,” said Dave Vrielink, team leader at the LVNL department of communication, navigation, surveillance and infra, who took initiative for the donation.

“I'm very happy that these navigation beacons will now have a second life in Zambia, facilitated by the AviAssist Foundation. That feels good.”

Aircraft fly based on multiple sources of information, including conventional ground-based navigation beacons and satellite navigation. The Netherlands has a robust nationwide network with various types of navigation beacons, increasingly relying on satellite navigation. It means these beacons were no longer needed and have been decommissioned and dismantled.

 AviAssist has been leading, building and supporting aviation safety promotion in African aviation since 1995. Although it is normally reluctant to support the donation of second-hand equipment to Africa in view of the risk of continent being seen as a dumping ground of old technology, this was different.

“It was the commitment of the LVNL in ensuring that the shipment of functioning beacons included the maintenance logs, manuals and spare parts that led us to support the re-use of these beacons” said AviAssist director Tom Kok. “There are plenty of countries in Africa that could use these beacons but we were also very keen to make sure that the recipients have the knowledge and maintenance discipline to install and maintain them. That why we opted for Zambia.

“It is crucial for the Foundation to ensure that international standards are met. This type of non-directional navigation beacon has been used in Zambia for some time now. As a result, technical staff at the Zambian airports are already familiar with the operation and maintenance of these NDBs. It is also great to witness the pride at the LVNL of its employees’ efforts to make its processes more sustainable”.

Maggie Kaunda, acting director at ZACL said: “These beacons are going to help us to close a number of gaps we have around the country. Some of them will be in Lusaka but they will be spread around the country as well so that they can address some of the gaps that we’ve had around the nation. We are excited about this donation”.

Link to the video about the beacons: https://bit.ly/3nUOzPi