The history of SAKAERONAVIGATSIA, as an independent organization, begins in 1993. State entity SAKAERONAVIGATSIA was founded in 1993, as a result of the unification of the Tbilisi United Aviation Brigade and electronic-radio-technical maintenance base existing in the Soviet period.
· In 1994, an agreement was signed with International Air Transport Association (IATA), which had been carrying out collection of charges for provided aeronautical service until 2014;
· Two navigation systems VOR/DME were installed in Tbilisi and Kutaisi in 1995, resulting in significantly improved quality of aeronautical service;
· In 1995-1997, at that time relatively modern radar system РП-4Г was put into operation for entry and landing of the aircraft on the airfield.
It was obvious from the very outset, that at the end of the twentieth century, the outdated Soviet systems could no longer meet the standards of international aviation organizations and complete modernization of navigation and surveillance technology, training of staff, development of infrastructure, improvement of legislation, etc. would become necessary.
· In 1997, within the framework of the TRACECA project, an agreement was signed between SAKAERONAVIGATSIA and American Company NORTHROP GRUMAN on implementation of project for modernization of Georgia’s navigation systems. This important project enabled the organization to carry out air traffic control in the Georgian airspace in accordance with the international standards. Within the scope of this project, in 2000, new radar systems were installed in Tbilisi and Senaki, which allowed SAKAERONAVIGATSIA to fully control the Georgian airspace.
· In 1999, based on the Law of Georgia “On Entrepreneurs”, SAKAERONAVIGATSIA became a limited liability company.
· In 2000, a new modern control center was built in Tbilisi, and thus the Soviet system was replaced with a modern automated air traffic control system.
Transition to the self-funding principle and, consequently, the implemented projects gave SAKAERONAVIGATSIA Ltd. an opportunity for rapid development and it became a competitive company in the region.
In 2000-2007 SAKAERONAVIGATSIA Ltd. implemented many successful projects, introduced state-of-the-art technologies, started permanent retraining of staff, which increased positive assessments of international aviation organizations, and the interest of airlines in the Georgian airspace has increased.
The company used the increased income for procurement of flight safety systems and enhancing qualification of staff, the changes were introduced at all levels:
· Recruitment and training of new staff was carried out on the basis of contest;
· For the planned maximization of the air traffic control systems compliance with the international standards, the company purchased and installed new systems;
· The existing infrastructure was fully renovated;
· New digital radio stations were installed for provision of rapid and reliable bilateral air-to-ground communication;
· Instrument Landing Systems (ILS) and other navigation equipment were installed in the international airports of Georgia.
The performed restructuring and investment in the right direction enabled SAKAERONAVIGATSIA to provide double coverage of Georgian airspace and high standard services.
Training Center SAKASTAC
Georgian-English joint training center SAKASTAC was founded in 2005. SAKAERONAVIGATSIA Ltd. built a new building, invited accredited instructors from UK and announced the first open contest for choosing candidates to be trained as air traffic controllers. In parallel, the local staff was trained as instructors in the UK, who gradually replaced the invited instructors later.
In 2005-2007, SAKASTAC trained 25 ATCOs according to the ICAO accredited program. The graduates of this institution are still working successfully at SAKAERONAVIGATIA.
Digital Radio Station
In 2005, SAKAERONAVIGATSIA Ltd. installed a digital radio station produced by Italian Company OTE, which ensured rapid and reliable electronic communication between air traffic controllers and aircraft.
Visit of ICAO Regional Director
In 2005, ICAO Regional Director Christian Teile and his deputy George Firican visited Georgia. ICAO’s management positively assessed the ongoing processes in SAKAERONAVIGATSIA Ltd.
Batumi Tower building was opened in 2007, which was equipped with the latest systems complying with the international standards and all the necessary services for flight safety. The radar information imaging device of Czech Company ELDIS was installed in the tower. The airfield was equipped with a non-directional beacon (NDB). In addition, modern runway lighting systems were installed in Batumi. SAKAERONAVIGATSIA Ltd. bought the lighting and additional equipment from Czech Company AFL IMPEX.
In August 2008, the invasion of Georgian territory by the Russian Federation and hostilities left a great trace in the history of SAKAERONAVIGATSIA Ltd.
The company suffered loss from bombing of ASR-12 facility located on Kvishiana Mountain and robbery of Senaki facility.
On August 11, 2008, at 03:37:57, the Russian military aircraft attacked the primary and secondary radar system antenna located on Kvishiana Mountain with a missile. As a result of the fire, the primary and secondary radar system equipment, the location building, the office equipment and various kinds of supplies were completely destroyed.
The destruction of the radar system significant endangered flight safety. Air traffic controllers were forced to work without visualization for certain time. Despite the fact that there was a threat of Russian attack, not only on the radar system, but also directly to surveillance points, all employees of SAKAERONAVIGATSIA stayed on their workplaces, together with the management of the organization.
The Russian occupation forces occupied the Mode-S Secondary Surveillance Radar (MSSR) of SAKAERONAVIGATSIA located in Senaki, on the territory of the military base of №2 Infantry Brigade of the Ministry of Defense of Georgia, from August 11, 2018 until August 23, 2011. Five employees of SAKAERONAVIGATSIA Ltd. were in captivity during thirteen days by the Russian occupation forces. On August 18, at 15:15, the occupation forces disconnected the secondary radar forcedly and on August 21 and 22 they completely robbed the facility.
As a result of hostilities, the Russian occupation forces robbed and destroyed the property of SAKAERONAVIGATSIA, estimated at 4 000 000 GEL.
Due to the damage caused by the events of August 2008, the company had to sign the loan transmission agreement in the amount of 4,690,000 EUR with the Ministry of Finance of Georgia, which was implemented between the Government of Georgia and the Government of the French Republic on the basis of the financial protocol signed on November 24, 2008. As a result, SAKAERONAVIGATSIA Ltd. bought a new radar from French Company THALES, which was installed instead of the destroyed system.
Equipment of Tbilisi Air Traffic Control Center with Modern Systems
In 2009, SAKAERONAVIGATSIA Ltd. launched at Tbilisi Air Traffic Control Center a new automated air traffic control system produced by the Italian Company Selex. In the same year, the project of reconstruction of lighting equipment was also implemented. The new lighting system was installed in Tbilisi International Airport by Italian Company O.C.E.M.
In 2009, the Doppler VHF Omnirange (DVOR) equipment was put into operation in Tbilisi International Airport. This radio-technical equipment was installed by US Company Selex.
Agreement on Common Airspace
In 2010, Georgia signed an agreement “On Common Aviation Area” (ECAA) with the European Union. Part of the agreement included harmonization with the EU rules, and the aeronautical service played a large part in this process. Approximately 30 regulations and directives were specified in the agreement referring to introduction of so called “Open Sky”.
The initiation of Georgia’s integration into the European Union is related to this fact, which eventually ended up with accession in 2014. According to the experts of EUROCONTROL, this was one of the most successful integration.
On December 24, 2010, Tamar Mepe Regional Airport was opened in Mestia. In 2011, SAKAERONAVIGATSIA Ltd. purchased the versatile lighting kit - CALKIT and precision approach path indicator (PAPI), produced by British Company METALITE AVIATION LIGHTING for 1200 meter runway of Mestia Airport. In the same year, the company installed a radio station NDB VR500 manufactured by Canadian Company NAUTEL in Mestia, Zuruldi Mountain.
Poti Radar Station
Poti Radar Station was opened on April 22, 2011. French Company THALES equipped the secondary surveillance radar. SAKAERONAVIGATSIA Ltd. became able to provide full radar coverage over the airspace of Western Georgia.
Senaki Radar Station
In 2011, the MSSR radar of Senaki was changed by the Monopulse Secondary Surveillance Mode-S Radar manufactured by Spanish Company INDRA, with action radius of 250 miles.
On October 22, 2011, construction of Kutaisi International Airport and Tower building began. The design of the airport terminal, the Tower and navigation office belongs to one of the best architectural companies in the world - UNStudio.
For Kutaisi International Airport SAKAERONAVIGATSIA Ltd. bought an automated weather observation system from British Company SYSTEMS INTERFACE. The company installed TWO ILS/DME system and Doppler VHF omnirange (DVOR) equipment in Kutaisi.
The digital radio stations produced by Norwegian Company JOTRON were also installed there. The lighting system complying with the international standards was also installed.
Kutaisi Tower was opened in November 2013.
In 2015 Kutaisi Tower and the administrative office buildings were awarded with the international quality certificates of TUV SUD.
Accession to EUROCONTROL
Georgia became the 40th member state of EUROCONTROL since January 1, 2014. As a result of Georgia’s accession to the international organization, the country has joined the European network of air traffic control. A number of projects implemented by SAKAERONAVIGATSIA Ltd. are related to cooperation with EUROCONTROL. As a result of accession to the international organization, the country moved to a higher standard of flight safety.
After 2014, hundreds of employees of SAKAERONAVIGATSIA Ltd. have attended a number of trainings in Luxembourg and Georgia, developed by EUROCONTROL. In addition, the staff of SAKAERONAVIGATSIA travel to Brussels, in the headquarters of EUROCONTROL on the basis of the rotation principle, where they work for 6 months, get practice, improve their skills and introduce the European experience in Georgia.
Since Georgia become a member of EUROCONTROL, Central Route Charges Office (CRCO) of EUROCONTROL defines and collects the charges for the aeronautical service rendered by SAKAERONAVIGATSIA Ltd. This made the budgeting system much transparent and well-organized in the company.
With the support of the EUROCONTROL experts, SAKAERONAVIGATSIA Ltd. studied the existing flows, which led to determination of bandwidth, search of possibilities of its growth and implementation. With the involvement of the EUROCONTROL experts, the plan of reconfiguration of the Georgian airspace design was also developed. In addition, the non-state pension insurance scheme of staff of SAKAERONAVIGATSIA was introduced with the support and consultation of EUROCONTROL.
In 2016, as a result of cooperation with EUROCONTROL, the draft project of free routes was developed, which was launched from October 1, 2017, with their support.
SAKAERONAVIGATSIA Ltd., with the support of EUROCONTROL, has determined the acceptable level of radar capacities and developed its monitoring mechanism.
In addition, the Flow Monitoring Division of EUROCONTROL monitors and analyzes the air traffic statistics of the member states and makes the long-term forecasts for future trends.
SAKAERONAVIGATSIA also successfully cooperates with international aviation organizations, such as ICAO, ECAC, EASA, IATA, CANSO. The reforms carried out by SAKAERONAVIGATSIA are positively appreciated by the international aviation organizations and evaluations are improved every year.
Introduction of Quality Management System
In 2013-2014, the Aeronautical Information and Meteorological Service of SAKAERONAVIGATSIA Ltd. were awarded with the certificates of quality management system. The process of introduction of quality management system by the Aeronautical Information Service is taught in the program of the IANS Aviation Institution, as the best example for introduction of the quality management system.
After launching of new Air Traffic Control Center, SAKAERONAVIGATSIA addresses the international audit companies with the request of certification of the entire company. This fact will be an ambitious challenge for the organization.
In 2014-15, modern meteorological offices were built in Batumi and Kutaisi international airports. In 2016, a new meteorological radar was launched on “1100 landmark of Kvishiana Mountain”, near Tbilisi. This enabled SAKAERONAVIGATSIA to scan and monitor meteorological conditions within Georgian airspace in an uninterrupted manner.
After introduction of new technologies, one of the best meteorological preliminary warning systems in the world operates in Georgia.
Radio Stations in Kakheti
In 2016, new “ground-to-air” stationary radio station system was installed in Kakheti (Tsivi Mountain), through which two-way communication with the small aircrafts, that operate on low level (Class G), became possible for the first time.
Navigation Systems in Bakuriani and Gudauri
In the same year, installation of DMA-DMA of new navigation system in Bakuriani and Gudauri and construction of buildings for them was completed.
Insurance of Airspace
In 2016, Sakaeronavigatsia Ltd. insured the Georgian airspace for the first time in the history of Georgia. This project will free the Government of Georgia from the financial liability generated as a result of possible aviation incident in the Georgian airspace within the scope of half a billion USD, which accordingly means saving of the greatest material resources for the country.
Rehabilitation of Lighting Equipment
In July 2016, the project of rehabilitation of runways and taxiways of Tbilisi International Airport was completed. After completion of the rehabilitation works, Shota Rustaveli Tbilisi International Airport was completely upgraded, modern runways and taxiways, are equipped with category II lighting equipment, complying with the modern standards. This very important project was implemented by SAKAERONAVIGATSIA Ltd., United Airports of Georgia LLC and LEPL Civil Aviation Agency jointly.
SAKAERONAVIGATSIA has added 800 lights to the lighting system, removed and replaced 500 points from the existing 720, in total 1500 lights are provided on new runway and taxiways.
Increase of Number of Flights
The number of flights has significantly increased in Georgian airspace since 2014. Improvement of the level of service of SAKAERONAVIGATSIA and favorable tariffs contributed to steady growth of air traffic.
New Air Traffic Controllers (ATCOs)
According to the increased demands, SAKAERONAVIGATSIA hired 24 new candidates through open contest in 2015-2016 and trained them as air traffic controllers in Czech Aviation University. Today more than 120 licensed air traffic controllers work at SAKAERONAVIGATSIA.
Today, the uninterrupted training and retraining process of employees of SAKAERONAVIGATSIA is managed by the training center. In 2017, SAKAERONAVIGASIA began construction of a new simulator, where modern 3D simulator of air traffic control was installed, which will enable the air traffic controllers to undergo practical training and further enhance their professionalism.
SAKAERONAVIGATSIA Ltd. built a new tower and navigation office at Ambrolauri Airport. The project was developed by the employees of SAKAERONAVIGATSIA. Modern meteorological and navigation systems were installed in Ambrolauri.
Backup System in Kutaisi
In accordance with the ICAO’s recommendations, SAKAERONAVIGATSIA Ltd. installed a backup system in Kutaisi in October, 2016. This enables the company to continue aeronautical service of the aircrafts without any delay, in case of loss of connection with the main Air Traffic Control Center of Tbilisi (during the natural disaster or unforeseen situation).
Construction of the Administrative Building
In 2016, construction of the administrative building was completed.
In 2016, SAKAERONAVIGATSIA Ltd. decided to introduce free routes in the Georgian airspace. As a result of cooperation of the ATC specialists of SAKAERONAVIGATSIA and the experts of EUROCONTROL, the draft project of introduction of free routes was created, which was launched on October 1, 2017, with their support.
New technologies, sophisticated procedures and increased cooperation with international aviation organizations have made air traffic control more efficient. This was reflected in steady growth of airflows and load of the Georgian airspace that was increased by 13% in 2017.
Air Traffic Control Center of Tbilisi
On May 18, 2018, the Air Traffic Control Center was opened in Tbilisi. The building is built in compliance with the European standards, its ceiling, heating / cooling system and acoustics are the best in the region.
New air traffic control system, which was purchased by SAKAERONAVIGATSIA from Spanish Company INDRA, was put into operation. Construction of modern center started in 2015. 200 people were employed for the construction. Total value of the project exceeded tens of millions GEL.
The new system of INDRA will have the third additional protection. This will be the reserve independent from the system, completely excluding any delay during the work process.