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CAA concerned over air travel implications at SKA site

The authority says the establishment of a protected area at the SKA project could have implications.

One of the Meerkat radio telescopes in the Northern Cape, as part of the SKA. Picture: SKA

CAPE TOWN - The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) says the establishment of a radio astronomy protected area around the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope could have implications for air travel.

It's aimed at protecting astronomical equipment in the Northern Cape from radio interference.

But the CAA's Gawie Bestbier say a ban on the use of frequencies would affect two-way radio communication between aircraft and control centres.

"The only way for us is to fly around it which means we'll have a greater environmental impact because of an increase in track miles which result in carbon emissions."

At the same time, the SKA's Lorenzo Raynard says low-flying aircraft could be at risk.

"There is a risk to low-flying aircraft that flies close to the antenna. The risk is they could damage receivers which will be in the core area where the SKA site. All of this depends on how legislature has been promulgated."