Azerbaijan’s national airline, Azerbaijan Airlines (AZAL), has opened the Airspace Supervision and Efficiency Center (ASEC), meant to bring Azerbaijan’s air industry into line with European safety standards and link European Organization for the Safety of Air Navigation (Eurocontrol) located in Brussels and the Air Flow Management Center in Singapore. The facility is the first of its kind in post-Soviet countries, which includes the Caspian region country of Azerbaijan.
“Thanks to the ASEC, Azerbaijan will play the role of a strategic partner of both Eurocontrol and the Asian air traffic control center,” AZAL President Jahangir Askerov said Thursday during the opening of the center, according to a press release posted to AZAL’s website.
Located at the Heydar Aliyev International Airport in Baku, the center is operated by Azerbaijan’s Air Navigation Authorities (AZANS) and features the TopSky system, a computerized air traffic control and management solution developed by French Thales Air Systems.
Previously known as the EUROCAT, the system allows for a smooth operation of air traffic control and management, including surveillance data processing and track correlation, flight plan and aeronautical information data processing.
Baku and Paris agreed to launch the ASEC in 2017 during President Ilham Aliyev’s visit to France. The total cost of the project, which is considered a pilot project for Thales, amounts to €7 million, or roughly $8.5 million.
“We are very pleased to have participated in the launch of such a center, through which it is possible to obtain important information and use it in a management,” said Aurelia Bouchez, France’s ambassador to Azerbaijan.
“This shows that Azerbaijan is able and will become a transport hub in this region,” Bouchez said.
Just south of Russia and bordering the western coastline of the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan’s location means it has the potential to become a regional transportation hub between the east and west. More than 90,000 flights per year transit over the country, considered the South Caucasus’ largest economy.
“This is an indicator of AZAL’s readiness to manage a large number of flights in the airspace of Azerbaijan,” said Thales International Senior Executive Vice President, Raphael Eskinazi.
AZAL is Azerbaijan’s largest air carrier, with international flights to destinations that include the U.S., Germany, the U.K., the United Arab Emirates, Turkey and others. The company’s fleet includes aircraft manufactured by Boeing, Airbus, and Embraer. AZAL’s New York flights are conducted using a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner. AZAL also serves through Buta Airways, a low-cost flight subsidiary passenger airline.
French Thales Group and Azerbaijani Airlines have been cooperating for more than 20 years. While designing and building electrical systems and providing services for the aerospace, defense, transportation and security markets, Thales secures the space of Azerbaijan by providing radars and a new Air Traffic Control tower for the Baku International airport.
“I am sure that together we will be able to implement even more ambitious projects,” Eskinazi highlighted on Thursday.