ADB Airfield Solutions : Taking to the Skies

Editorial Team
Editorial Team

As Africa continues to grow, so do its airports. ADB Airfield Solutions Southern Africa’s CEO Manfred Oettl tells us more.


The African continent has ambitious growth and expansion plans. A key part of that is creating new airports, expanding current airports and professionalising the existing ones. In a world where airport safety remains a priority and runway incursion accidents are on the rise, technologies such as airfield lighting systems, precision approach and landing systems, surface movement radars, and visual docking guidance systems are imperative for ensuring airport safety.

This is where ADB Airfield Solutions comes in, playing a major role through its comprehensive and internationally certified product range of safety solutions and management systems. The company’s integrated solutions such as Advanced Surface Movement Guidance & Control Systems (A-SMGCS) include products and services to ensure safety from landing to take off, covering LED runway and taxiway lights, guidance signs and microprocessor controlled constant current regulators.

“We have an innovative portfolio ranging from design and development, installation, maintenance and consulting to training,” says ADB’s Southern African CEO Manfred Oettl. “We’re well aware of the potential in Africa for our business and our solutions support airport operations and enable them improve their performance and reliability.”

Worldwide, ADB’s solutions have been successfully integrated across 2,000 civil and military airports and heliports. The company was incorporated in 2008 and is based in Johannesburg. ADB Airfield Solutions (PTY) Ltd operates as a subsidiary of ADB BVBA.

“There will be a lot of growth in the region, and ADB is ideally situated for this,” adds Oettl. “By integrating the various ADB offices worldwide, we can then achieve a better understanding of the client’s needs, and offer them the service they require.”

ADB was recently selected to assist in the modernisation of the runway at Cape Town International Airport, helping to improve energy efficiency and ease of maintenance. “We’re upgrading the CATIII Airfield ground lighting at the airport,” Oettl explains. “The project is vital for an airport which is a gateway for millions of passengers coming to Cape Town.”

The company will supply and install its new High Intensity AD Lights for the runway centreline, touchdown and taxiway centreline, the new High Intensity EREL LED runway edge lights as well as runway closure crosses, which are part of its “green” energy efficient LED lighting portfolio.

The new Runway closure markers will allow easier airfield lighting maintenance by allowing the airport staff to close commercial operations on the runway when needed. The scope includes commissioning services and the relocation of AGL manholes to 50 metres from the runway edge. “Cape Town International Airport is by far one of Africa’s busiest airports and since the runway will continue to support air traffic during the course of the upgrade, this project demands impeccable standards of quality,” Christian Onselaere, CEO of ADB, said in a recent press release. “We are honoured that Airports Company South Africa, a long-standing partner, values the proficiency of our personnel and trusts our ability to implement this project flawlessly.”

The project is scheduled to be completed in July 2013. “It showcases our capabilities nicely,” says Oettl. “We have an end-to-end approach to enhancing runway safety and take a complete view of an airport’s and our customer first philosophy inspires us to look at ways in which we can deliver a solution that effectively tackles the challenges our customers face.”

The aim now is to grow the business 30 percent annually. We will invest in training our current team to be able to manage our ever-widening portfolio and we will employ additional highly specialised people in order to sustain our current high standards of service.

“ADB’s exposure in the SADC region, Nigeria and Kenya is already very good, with an installed base in most of these countries of around 60 percent, this is improving all the time, and ADB has always had a good reputation in the region. “We are looking especially to grow in Angola, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania and Malawi and I feel that Africa is an exciting market to work in, even with all the challenges of funding, distances and the wide cultural differences.

“There is a clear need for African countries to improve their safety records, as well improve the first impression made to tourists and investors, by making their national gateways more appealing. It’s where we come in. Africa is a vast continent with lots of challenges and transportation is one of them. The improvement of the air transport industry, and therefore the airports, will be necessary for governments, to allow access to various mineral and industries, as well as to improve the welfare of their people by improving travel opportunities.”

ADB Airfield Solutions’ history dates back to 1920 when Adrien de Backer started manufacturing electrical resistors and transformers before moving into the business of theatre lights and control panels in 1925. The company continues to push the envelope and is set for a very bright future (if you’ll excuse the pun?).

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