Air navigation facilities at Kuwait International Airport are among the best in the region, benefiting from two ILS Cat II-equipped parallel runways and the latest in radar and communications equipment. Add in highly trained air traffic controllers and runway and airspace capacity to spare and you have an excellent recipe for handling air traffic growth both now and well into the future.

Airspace capacity within the region was substantially increased in November 2003 with the introduction of Reduced Vertical Separation Minimum (RVSM).This new standard increased the number of flight levels between 29,000ft and 41,000ft by reducing the vertical separation between levels from 2,000ft to 1,000ft.As a result, KIA now enjoys an additional six levels for its traffic controllers to allocate between these altitudes, bringing the total to 13. Although only those aircraft equipped with the appropriate avionics can benefit from RVSM, it is nevertheless a huge boon for airlines, allowing more aircraft to use the most fuel-efficient cruising altitudes.

The system is proving equally rewarding for the air traffic controllers, making their workload easier to manage. The increased number of flight levels introduces additional flexibility to the system, providing a simpler decisionmaking process, reducing traffic congestion at key choke points and helping to cut inflight delays. All KIA air traffic controllers – already among the most highly qualified in the world – underwent additional training to handle the RVSM introduction.Air Navigation operates a continuous training regime with 45 Area and Approach Radar Controllers sent to overseas training colleges for refresher courses in 2006.

Determined to remain at the forefront of regional developments, the DGCA – in conjunction with ICAO and IATA – has also been heavily involved in the re-openingof Iraqi airspace to commercial aviation. Two parallel routes have been approved for east-west traffic through the Mid-region, with operations inaugurated on 9 June 2005.To ensure safety, the routes are unidirectional – one traversing north-west to south-east and the other reversing the journey, entering and exiting the region over Turkey and Syria. In addition, each route has its own dedicated flight levels, further enhancing air safety.

Following recent investment in new technology, KIA needed no additional upgrades, other than the updating of charts, to cater to the new air routes.The new direct routings make Europe-Asia flights more efficient for carriers, producing significant savings in both time and fuel. Despite its position at the cutting edge of air navigation, the DGCA is always looking for ways to improve and is currently following the IATA/ICAO CNS/ATM (Communication Navigation Surveillance/Air Traffic Management) project closely.

The ultimate goal of the project is the development of a global navigation system, and the DGCA will seriously study any resulting recommendations with a view to implementation.

In 2006, the DGCA signed a contract with International Company, specialising in airspace design, which will develop Area Navigation (RNAV) Approaches for KIA – known as RNAV SIDs (Standard Instrument Departure) and STARS (Standard Terminal Arrival Route). All KIA air traffic controllers – already among the most highly qualified in the world – underwent additional training to handle the RVSM introduction.