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Air Traffic Safety







IVON SETSWE: A Dynamic Amazon Driven by Passion




            Talking about securing a place in the league of international women in aviation, Ivon Setswe has, no doubt, carved out an enviable niche for herself, all by dint of hard work, diligence and resilience. On 30 November 2023, Ivon was overwhelmingly elected as the Executive President of the South African Air Traffic Safety Electronics Personnel Association (SAATSEPA), taking over from an equally enigmatic amazon of aviation, Ms. Orefile Mthombeni. With the Executive President’s job, Ms. Setswe incurs the responsibility of, among other things, convening and chairing all Executive Committee meetings and Annual General Meetings as well as ensuring compliance with the provisions of SAATSEPA Constitution and the Committee Charter.

 Ms. Ivon Setswe holds a National Diploma Electrical Engineering (NDIP) from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and a BSc (General Degree majoring in Geography and Information System) from the University of South Africa. She has been working for South Africa’s ATNS for over 14 years with a diverse portfolio, first as an Engineering Technician Trainee based at FAOR. She was later promoted to be an Engineering Instructor specializing in Communications Systems in the ATM environment at the Aviation Training College as well as an Instructional designer, where she was a project manager and produced, together with the team, the first Engineering ICAO STP Approved Course.

              Ms. Setswe is a registered assessor and moderator with SAQA and TETA and holds ICAO TRAINAIR PLUS TDC and Instructor Certificates. She also holds the SAQA registered Curriculum Design and Development certificate and the Assessment Design and Development certificate.



In this interview, Ms. Ivon Setswe discusses issues revolving around the South African aviation community and the level of engagement of South African women in the aviation industry.


You were elected as the Executive President of the South African Air Traffic Safety Electronics Personnel Association (SAATSEPA) on 30 November 2023 following the voluntary resignation of Ms. Orefile Mthombeni, which took effect from 1st December 2023. How significant is this election to you?


I genuinely didn’t anticipate a majority vote on that day. The significance rather lies in the fact that it genuinely showcased the support I have within SAATSEPA and I would say that I’m honoured to serve and follow in Orefile’s footsteps.


What is your vision for SAATSEPA and the South African CNS/ATM sector and what key issues would constitute your agenda as SAATSEPA Executive President?


My vision lies in continuing the tasks already set in motion ahead of me. I really would not be reinventing the wheel, so to say. But instead I will be applying myself to solidifying and advancing the SAATSEPA vision which is the provision of a platform for the exchange of experiences and technical knowledge in order to facilitate the provision of engineering support for a safe air traffic management community.

The key issues, of course, are air traffic safety electronics personnel (ATSEP) licensing and the future of ATSEP, including the onerous task of equipping the ATSEP with relevant skills and knowledge to address modern CNS/ATM technology.


How much support is SAATSEPA currently getting from ATNS and the South African regulatory authority regarding the modernization of air traffic safety electronics practices?


We are garnering ample support from all stakeholders within the confines of our constitution and our collaborative partnership framework. But I must add that there’s always space for enhancement.


And where would you say that the Republic of South Africa is currently standing in relation to the ICAO drives for the modernization, homogeneity and interoperability of CNS/ATM systems?


We are actually on target and maximizing our efforts and resources in order to maintain relevance, stay current and lead the way in the aviation sector whilst also staying abreast of technological advancements.


Still talking about CNS/ATM operations, what changes are you seeing today regarding the provision of air navigation services in South Africa?


Change is unavoidable and adaption is essential for progress. From environmental shifts and technological advancements to socio- political transformations, seamless integration is vital to minimizing disruptions in our services. To be sure, our competent team employs precise methodologies to ensure uninterrupted service delivery.


And what is SAATSEPA doing to address these changes both in terms of personnel certification and training?


SAATSEPA is actively partnering with pertinent stakeholders to establish platforms for mutual discussions, idea sharing and the review, implementation and advancement of strategic goals.

Talking about gender equality in aviation, what are your thoughts regarding the level of engagement of women in the South African CNS/ATM working environment?


Let me be frank here. Women are traditionally under-represented in various roles within the aviation sector, including pilots, engineers and senior management positions.


Would you, then, say that South African women are getting a pretty good deal within the South African aviation sphere?


While there has been progress in recent years to promote gender diversity, the industry still tends to be male- dominated.


And still talking about gender equality, would you say that South African female ATSEPs are doing enough to raise the bar as far as the air traffic safety electronics profession is concerned?


Women are indeed making the most of the opportunities afforded to them, ensuring mutual support and advancement while upholding existing standards.


Finally, what do you think IFATSEA should be doing to further illuminate the air traffic safety electronics profession globally?


When it comes to illuminating the air traffic safety electronics profession on a global scale, I think what IFATSEA should be doing is to continue to increase the visibility of the profession and promote ATSEPs worldwide. ◙