According to the 2014 report published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Africa is one of the most vulnerable continents facing climate change and climate variability. The report found that changes in a variety of ecosystems are already being detected. One of the great concerns alongside water stress is agricultural production and food security in many African countries. In fact, many nations and regions are likely to face severe conditions as result of the changing climate. According to the report, “The climate of the [African] continent is controlled by complex maritime and terrestrial interactions that produce a variety of climates across a range of regions, e.g., from the humid tropics to the hyper-arid Sahara (see Christensen et al., 2007). Climate exerts a significant control on the day-to-day economic development of Africa, particularly for the agricultural and water-resources sectors, at regional, local and household scales”.
The Agency for Aerial Navigation Safety in Africa (ASECNA) is an air traffic control agency based in Dakar, Senegal. It manages 16.1 million square kilometers of airspace (1.5 times the size of Europe) covering six Flight Information Regions (FIRs). ASECNA Air Traffic Control centers are based at international airports in each of these regions. To manage this demanding task, ASECNA has been working together with Vaisala to implement the 4th Generation Sounding System with Vaisala’s new Radiosonde RS41.
With customer feedback as the driving force behind the development of the new sounding system, Vaisala has been able to create an easy to use and reliable sounding solution that is second to none. At the heart of the 4th Generation Sounding System, the Vaisala Radiosonde RS41 features upgraded data consistency and improved usability, applying the best metrological practices and error prevention solutions. The new RS41 features upgrades to the humidity and temperature sensors which ensure greater data reliability, and accuracy, that customers expect from Vaisala. The streamlined radiosonde launch process with the new maintenance-free ground check device, clear and logical use of MW41 soundings system as well as remote use of MW41 are examples of new features that were added based on customer cooperation. The new compact radiosonde design is easier to handle and 60% lighter, allowing 20% more launches for the same quantity of gas needed with the RS92.
ASECNA began negotiations with Vaisala in 2012 and was looking to upgrade 20 sounding stations in all. Vaisala arranged a workshop in Dakar to demonstrate the benefits of Vaisala’s DigiCORA Sounding System MW41. In the spring of 2014, Vaisala introduced the new Vaisala Radiosonde RS41 and 4th Generation Sounding System and provided live sounding demonstrations for ASECNA operators. Delivery of the ground systems to ASECNA started in May 2014 and the customer began to perform the upgrades at individual stations. Vaisala organized further operator training in Douala, Cameroon. During the training both RS92 and RS41 radiosondes were used, with ASECNA operators clearly preferring the RS41 and over the RS92, due to its ease of use and improved accuracy.
Following testing by the customer, ASECNA was convinced that the next generation soundings platform would bring the efficiency and quality of its sounding operations to a new level. Operators emphasized that the ease of use and automated procedures added clear value for the operator, and also allowed BUFR messages, easier installation and configuration of the new system, and improved radiosonde signal reception. ASECNA also suggested further improvements to the system, for example the creation of a French-language user interface, which has now been implemented in the system.
ASECNA has been a Vaisala sounding customer for nearly 30 years, using Vaisala sounding systems for approximately half of their soundings. The cooperation with ASECNA is set to continue with a formalized 5-year partnership agreement covering both radiosounding and airport weather observations. With the agreement, Vaisala and ASECNA aim to mutually streamline processes for equipment lifecycle support, helping to make ASECNA’s operations even better in the future. At Vaisala, we take pride in being part of the solution, providing world-class sounding equipment and solutions to measure the African skies.