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Historical Background













Every contracting state to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) is required in terms of the Convention on International Civil Aviation, commonly known as the Chicago Convention, and its Annexes, to ensure the safety of navigational aids at international airports. Consequently each contracting state is obliged to provide in its territory airports, radio services, meteorological services and other air navigation facilities to facilitate international air navigation, in accordance with the standards and recommended practices (SARPs) established from time to time pursuant to the Convention. The most relevant in this regard are Annexes 10 (Aeronautical Telecommunications) and Annex 14 (Aerodromes). Standard 2.7 of Annex 10, Volume 1 requires that radio navigational aids of the types covered by the specifications in Chapter 3 of the Annex, e.g. instrument landing systems (ILS) and very high frequency omnidirectional range (VOR) and available for use by aircraft engaged in international air navigation shall be the subject of periodic ground and flight tests to ensure that they meet certain required specified standards. Annex 14 specifies requirements to be met by visual aids to navigation. The realisation of the goal of safe, efficient and effective air navigation is highly reliant on the precision of the navigational aids in use. The function of flight calibration is essential to the safety of air navigation. This function is carried out by the Flight Inspection Unit. The FIU boasts a successful history of flight inspection of ground radio navigational aids in South Africa for more than half a century. The Flight Inspection Unit, which is a civil aviation regulations (CAR) Part 121 operation, also conforms to the regulatory requirements of Part 91, relating to the operation of aircraft. The CAA Flight Inspection Unit, located at the Lanseria International Airport, ensures that navigational aids in South Africa are safe, by focusing on two distinct areas:


  • It carries out precision certification for the commissioning of newly installed air navigation systems.
  • It periodically checks the technical and operational parameters of existing surveillance and navigational aid instruments.


The safety of the flying public has always been of paramount importance to South Africa and the international aviation community. The mandate of the FIU is ensuring that all radio navigational aids in South Africa are periodically flight inspected to ensure safe and efficient operations. This Unit has a long history, beginning in 1947, when safety in South African skies was first regulated. This was done through the then Directorate of Civil Aviation within the Department of Transport. During 1949 a temporary Instrument Landing System (ILS), was installed at Palmietfontein, an airport just outside of Germiston on the East Rand. This was followed in 1953 by a similar installation at Wingfield Air Base. In 1953 and 1954, the two ILS systems were moved to new locations, which are now OR Tambo and Cape Town international airports respectively. In 1957 a purpose fit, in-house developed calibration system was installed on the Douglas DC3 aircraft operated by the DoT. In 1971 an HS-125 aircraft was purchased and fitted with a state of the art flight inspection system complete with a Telectroscope. At that point, Africa was starting to open up for flight inspection and countries, including Seychelles, Malawi and the then Rhodesia were among the first to be serviced by the South African Flight Calibration Unit. This newly found success was cut short by the international isolation of South Africa due to apartheid policies and the Unit was forced to only operate within South Africa. The current Cessna CITATION II aircraft was acquired by government in 1986. The Flight Inspection Unit (FIU) was born when the South African Civil Aviation Authority, a statutory agency responsible for aviation safety and security, was established in 1998. The FIU, a Part 121 AOC holder, is a semi-autonomous strategic business unit of the CAA. The South African FIU has grown from two inspectors serving two airports to a fully-fledged, self-sustainable world class business, serving the greater part of the SADC region, supporting about 46 Instrument Landing Systems (ILS), 107 Very High Frequency Omnidirectional Range (VOR), 13 Tactical Air Navigation Systems (TACAN) and various other navigational aids.

We provide the following types of inspections/Services.

  • Site evaluation
  • Commissioning
  • Routine
  • Special
  • After accident
  • Surveillance
  • Calibration.

We calibrate/inspect the following facilities.

  • Instrument landing system (ILS)
  • VHF omnidirectional radio range (VOR)
  • Distance measuring equipment (DME)
  • Tactical air navigation system (TACAN)
  • Precision approach path indicators(PAPI's)
  • Non-directional beacon (NDB)

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