ANSPs implement measures to address financial crisis

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Data collected by the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO) shows that air navigation service providers (ANSPs) across Europe have taken extraordinary measures to reduce their costs in light of the COVID-19 crisis.

Traffic is at a mere 15% of what they were this time last year and subsequently ANSPs have had to contend with a dramatic decline in revenues. The situation has been compounded in Europe by the deferral of ATC charges by the airlines, despite the need for ANSPs to provide a full service so that the skies remain open and safe.

Emergency measures including a reduction in staff costs of 11% on average and a 25% cut to executive pay salaries have been introduce by ANSPs to tackle their revenue shortfall. In nations where it’s possible about 20% of staff have been furloughed for either a portion of their work time or a defined period of time. Negotiations in many ANSPs are underway with staff representatives to introduce further measures.

“There is a misconception that ANSPs enjoy a financially protected position but this simply not the case,” said CANSO’s Director European Affairs, Tanja Grobotek. “Just like everyone in the industry they are having to reduce their costs. The measures available to do that vary from State to State primarily because of different employment law and labour relations. Also, the infrastructure investments of European ANSPs are at different stages of implementation, so while some can be deferred, in other cases deferrals would create more costs than savings.”

CANSO’s data also shows that ANSP’s have turned to their investment profiles for savings, cutting about 25% in CAPEX costs. This includes postponing or cancelling non-vital projects while maintaining priority and ongoing investments.

Warning that it’s important to note that the measures being taken by its members are being implemented to deal with the immediate situation rather than as long-term solutions, Grobotek added: “We have learned from previous crises the danger of making deep cuts now which could come back to haunt us as capacity crunches and flight delays when traffic levels return to normal. And so as well as dealing with the immediate challenges, we must keep an eye to the future.”

ROMATSA extends partnership with Rohde & Schwarz

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The Romanian air navigation service provider ROMATSA has upgraded the voice communications system (VCS) at Bucharest Otopeni Airport in Romania with the latest version of CERTIUM VCS-4G from Rohde & Schwarz.

The airport’s current VCS system has been in operation since the late 2000s and was the first fully IP VCS used in an ATC Tower. The upgrade, which will be applied to both the operational and simulator systems, will preserve legacy line connections, improve operational capabilities and increase safety thanks to a fully ED-137B compliant VCS and a fully distributed non-blocking architecture with 17 standard and 11 compact controller working positions (CWP).

“We are pleased to continue our collaboration with the Rohde & Schwarz Center of Competence for VDS as an innovative and reliable partner,” said Cosmin Dumitrescu, Technical Director, ROMATSA. “We are receiving proven, state-of-the-art technology in a highly advanced system solution, designed to meet next generation ATC communications requirements.”

Poznań welcomes aviation innovation hub

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The Polish Air Navigations Services Agency (PANSA) has officially opened its air traffic control (ATC) centre in the vicinity of Poznań-Ławica Airport. The facility is capable of managing all air traffic in Polish airspace. It also marks the first of PANSA’s investments in infrastructure for the Central Communication/ Transport Port (CPK) – a project which includes the construction of a new airport to replace Warsaw Chopin Airport. The new Solidarność Airport will be able  to accommodate up to 45 million passengers a year.

The  three-level, self-sufficient facility has been built on the site of an old radar tower with an investment of PLN 91.5 million. “Big investments start with smaller steps,” said Deptuy Minister of Infrastructure and Government Plenipotentiary for CPK, Marcin Horala. “The facility in Poznań is the first of PANSA’s investments in infrastructure, it is also a place where technologies used at all airports in Poland and, I hope, in the world will be developed,” Horala continued.

Polands Deputy Foreign Minister, Szymon Szynkowski aka Sęk, added: “Poland’s position on the global aviation market is getting stronger. This is not only due to more flights and destinations, but also to the development of the entire aviation sector. I am glad that thanks to this investment Poznań is becoming a bright spot on the map of technological aviation innovations.”

Covering almost 10,000 sqm the facility features two twin server rooms, has 50 sleeping capsules and can accommodate teams of controllers, technicians and programmers . It is equipped with two independent power supplies from the power grid and two power generators of 1.5 MW each, which could supply a medium-sized city with electricity, and is protected by the UPS systems with batteries. It also has a gas extinguishing system for ATC equipment, five heat pumps with a 240kW ground heat exchanger using 35 200m wells ensuring ecological and self-sufficient power supply as well as a car charging station and a bicycle room.

Alongside the The investment in the ATC centre is part of the overall construction plans for the CPK which will also feature a conventional tower, with remote technology using the new control centre in Poznań being used as an emergency solution. It is also hoped that Poznań’s ATC centre will also benefit all regional airports in Poland.

Air Navigation Solutions launches package to help airports reinstate operations

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Air Navigation Solutions (ANSL), the UK-based air navigation services provider (ANSP) has launched an operational compliance solution to help airports reinstate or scale up their operations in the wake of COVID-19.

ANSL originally developed Attis to manage the recovery and scaling up of its own air traffic management operations at its existing airport locations. But the solution is now being offered to other airports that have either closed or substantially reduced operations since March.

The Attis Basic package is offered free of charge to airports and delivers everything required for the management of a safe and compliant recovery. It includes all Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) required core elements, including: training, rostering, PPE requirements, cleaning and COVID risk assessments engineering. A wider range of tailored services are also available to airports.

“This is a critical time for all elements of the aviation industry to work together to ensure we collectively recover from the pandemic,” said Henry Game, Managing Director of ANSL. “We are keen to play our part in this vital process by sharing our proven expertise in air traffic management to enable airports to scale up their operations in a safe, compliant and cost-efficient manner,” he added.

Meanwhile, Paul Diestelkamp, Head of Business Development & Solutions at ANSL added: “Our work with airports of differing sizes has given us a clear understanding of their operational and compliance needs. This has enabled us to quickly develop solutions that not only serve our existing locations, but can be tailored to the needs of other airports to also help them recover from the pandemic.”

Seven ENAIRE projects selected to forge ahead with Single European Sky.

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The European Commission has chosen seven ENAIRE (Spain’s air navigation manager) projects involving the the Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR) Exploratory Research programme to advance the Single European Sky.

The ENAIRE and CRIDA (ENAIRE’s non-profit innovation centre) projects were chosen from 29 proposals selected out of a total of 128 applications there were presented for the fourth call of the European commission’s SESAR Exploratory Research.

The high proportion of awarded projects demonstrates the creative potential of ENAIRE and CRIDA to contribute innovative ideas towards the digitisation of European ATM.

The seven projects will be executed in a period of 30 months, and those that provide the most promising results will be considered for subsequent phases of research and development, both within the SESAR program and within the framework of Horizon Europe. ENAIRE will play an active role in all seven initiatives:

DACUS Project: Promotes services to balance capacity and demand in drone traffic. It integrates tools with predictions based on Artificial Intelligence (AI). ENAIRE is taking part in this proposal under the leadership of CRIDA, together with EUROCONTROL, Boeing Resarch & Technology Europe S.L.U., ISA Software Limited (ISA), Ingenieria y Economia del Transporte (INECO), Jeppesen GmbH (JEPP), Darmstadt University (Tuda), Sopra Steria Group (SSG), Toulouse Metropole (TM) and AHA (Netgenid ehf).

SINAPSE Project: Studies of a digital communications network, based on software augmented with AI. ENAIRE’s participation in this initiative, which is led by ALTYS Technologies, is alongside Frequentis AG and University of Bradforden,

FARO Project: Analyses the impact of new automations on the security and resilience of ATM systems. CRIDA is leading this proposal in collaboration with ENAIRE, EUROCONTROL, Madrid Polytechnic University (UPM), Belgrade University (UB), Lund University (LU) and ZenaByte.

TAPAS Project: Facilitates the understanding of the results of AI and machine learning systems to ensure they are transparent and explainable, in order to facilitate their implementation in ATM. CRIDA is also leading this project in collaboration with Boeing Research & Technology Europe SLU, ISA Software Limited (ISA), INDRA Sistemas (INDRA), University of Piraeus (UPRC) and the Fraunhofer Research Center.

ITACA Project: Develops tools and methodologies that evaluate new policies and regulations, to accelerate the development and implementation of new technologies in ATM. Together with Kungliga Tekniska Hoegskolan (KTH) and Transport & Mobility Leuven, under the leadership of Nommon Solutions and Technologies (NOMMON) CRIDA is involved.

ISOBAR Project: Addresses the use of AI and probability predictions of meteorological phenomena to improve the efficiency of demand and capacity management. CRIDA is spearheading this proposal in which Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M), Universidad de Cranfield (CU), EUROCONTROL, Ecole Nationale de l’Aviation Civile (ENAC) Direction des Services de la Navigation Aerienne (DSNA), Swiss International Air Lines Ltd. (SWR), Sopra Steria Group (SSG), Earth Networks (EN), Agencia Estatal de Meteorología (AEMET) and Météo-France (MF) are all taking part.

NOSTROMO Project: Develops performance measurement models for ATM at the European level, using AI. The aim is to keep the system simple and transparent, while preserving the complexity necessary to represent the ATM system realistically. CRIDA is also leading this initiative, which also involves Nommon Solutions and Technologies (NOMMON), Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC), ISA Software Limited (ISA), University of Westminster (WU) and University of Denmark (DTU).

 

Rohde & Schwarz performs aerial installation for German ANSP

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Rohde & Schwarz has performed an impressive installation of its latest direction finding (DF) antenna by helicopter for the German air navigation service provider (ANSP) DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH.

The DF antenna, which is part of a new air traffic control (ATC) solution (R&S DF-ATC) that allows controllers to obtain accurate DF results for up to 32 channels in parallel, was installed in an almost inaccessible location.

Having completed five of the six contracted installations, the last proved to be the most challenging. The site was located within a forest and was only accessible via a narrow track, which was unpassable for a truck-mounted crane without cutting down part of the forest. The aerial installation was deemed a more environmentally-friendly solution.

Rohde & Schwarz were awarded the contract for R&S DF-ATC sytems in 2018, at the DFS centre in Langen and five German airports (Nuremberg, Hamburg, Münster/Osnabrück, Stuttgart and Hanover). The systems increase the air traffic controller’s situational awareness by clearly referencing calling aircraft on a radar screen. The ATC DFs are housed in weatherproof units and usually mounted underneath a DF antenna that is three metres in diameter and weighs 120 kilograms. They are typically installed at a height of five meters, but to be taller than the surrounding trees, this was increased to 35 meters.

“Installation by helicopter was a very special challenge and certainly not without risk, while the current security situation made it even more complicated organisationally,” explained Henrik Rausch, Senior Program Manager Monitoring and Network Testing at Rohde & Schwarz. “Site by site, we delivered and installed new direction finders and we are very proud to provide DFS with our latest technology. We have an excellent partnership with our customer, who benefits from our expertise in providing complete ATC direction finding systems as a turnkey solution. It is part of our advanced CERTIUM universe.”

Header image: An antenna for the R&S DF-ATC direction finding solution, part of the CERTIUM LOCATE family, is mounted by helicopter for DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH (Image: Rohde & Schwarz)