Munich Airport teams up with industry leaders on Air Mobility Initiative

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Munich Airport has teamed up with leading companies, universities and research institutions, including Airbus and Diehl Aerospace to form the Air Mobility Initiative (AMI).

Funded by the Free State of Bavaria (which has provided €17m in funding) and the Federal Republic of Germany (which has provided €24m of funding), the initiative will set up a series of research projects aimed at making electric air mobility within and between cities a reality. The joint projects are centered around three main areas: electric aircraft, air traffic management services and vertiports – the infrastructure on the ground to support electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicles.

“A few years ago, Air Mobility was just a vision,” said Dr Ralf Gaffal, CEO, Munich Airport International. “We at Munich Airport International see enormous potential in this new form of mobility. The AMI partnership enables us to jointly develop and implement scalable and sustainable Air Mobility concepts for the public,” he continued.

The initiative will explore the various elements of such an air transport system in realistic projects to gain an accurate picture of the technical and regulatory requirements. “Electric air transport can enhance public transport, airports and time critical mobility services, it will be environmentally friendly, quiet and safe,” added Andreas Thellmann, Head of Air Mobility Initiative.

As a first step, the AMI partners will address the technological, infrastructural, legal and social prerequisites for the future implementation of advanced air transport. The knowledge gained from this process will be carried through a demonstration project under real conditions with eVTOLs.

Airbus together with Diehl Aerospace, the University of Stuttgart and other partners is behind the electrically powered aircraft. Meanwhile, companies including Droniq, Avionics, Airbus, DFS, BrigkAir and Telekom will look at how to integrate eVTOL traffic safely and efficiently in urban areas and within manned airspace.


Adacel finalises acquisition of virtual ATC tower solution

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Having previously announced in February the acquisition of a new virtual Air Traffic Control (ATC) tower solution, Adacel has now completed the purchase.

The new system has passed a rigorous Site Acceptance Testing (SAT) with Estonian Air Navigation Services (EANS) to provide virtual ATS tower operations for Kuressaare in Tallinn.

“We welcome our new team and customer to the Adacel family,” said Daniel Verret, Adacel’s CEO. “The new virtual ATC tower solution presents immense opportunities for everyone, and along with our deep industry expertise and ever-evolving technological advancements, we look forward to continuing our safety and efficiency in aviation.”

The tower, which is built on modular, open architecture principles, is suitable for a variety of functional needs, including integration with existing or new air traffic management, communication, navigation and surveillance systems.

With the Kuressaare SAT completed, the team will now work closely with EANS to ensure the successful deployment and seamless transition at its next location at Tartu Airport, followed by Pärnu and Kärdla airports in Estonia in due course.

“This is the first time EANS is at the developers’ end completing site acceptance testing  (SAT). Kuressaare SAT was done in a very short time,” said Iva Värk, EANS CEO. “It proves that the development has been done thoroughly and the outcome is a reliable system that effectively supports ATS service provision in all Estonian regional aerodromes.”

EANS plans to digitise all Estonian airports by 2025.

Kongsberg to modernise Concord-Padgett Regional Airport’s air traffic control system

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The City of Concord in North Carolina has teamed up with Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace, a global provider of high-technology and mission-critical systems, to agree a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) to enable the installation and eventual certification of the Kongsberg Remote Tower System at the airport.

Acknowledging the importance of addressing rising costs for its bricks and mortar tower, Concord Airport Director, Dirk Vanderleest, said: “It’s important to identify innovative means to meet our changing airport operating environment. Remote Towers have been designed to enable more efficient, cost-effective air traffic management which is welcomed news for our airport and many others across the country. We look forward to working together with Kongsberg, the FAA and our ATCs on this exciting project.”

Kongsberg Remote Towers will replace the traditional airport air traffic control towers with a virtual or remote tower and are operated by controllers from a remote tower control centre, which may be located at the airport or at an alternative site.

Providing secure, high fidelity video presentations from a camera sensor, the installation and evaluation of the Kongsberg Remote Tower moves the airport and the US a step closer to enabling remote towers and their built-in smart technical capabilities.

Kongsberg’s 360-degree camera sensor will be used to replace the information controllers presently gather by looking out the tower cab windows. The remote tower system also provides added capabilities that will increase the controllers’ areas of visibility and enhance it with infrared capabilities, increasing aviation safety – all in support of the remote tower technology being evaluated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

“Kongsberg Remote Tower system is operational in Europe, and we are proud to bring this ground-breaking technology to Concord-Padgett Regional Airport,” said Kjetil Reiten Myhra, Executive Vice President, Integrated Defence Systems, Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace. “Kongsberg will be working closely with the local air traffic controllers to customise and adapt the system to support FAA Remote Tower Type Certification. We look forward to providing US airports with viable alternatives to traditional air traffic control towers and controllers with modern technology to perform their safety-critical services.”

Eirik Tord Jensen, President of Kongsberg Defense Systems, USA, added: “The fact that we have entered into a formal, long-term agreement with the City of Concord shows the progress and commitment being made between the parties and Remote Tower technology. Remote Tower technology represents a cost-effective solution for the future of air traffic management. Now the team moves on to the next major milestone of making the Kongsberg Remote Tower an operational installation to begin its FAA Type Certification in 2023.”


Frequentis strengthens cooperation with Austro Control to enable safe flying with drones

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With the number of drones in Austria on the rise, the Austrian Air Navigation Services Provider (ANSP) Austro Control is relying on the development of an Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) system to ensure that uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs) can continue to fly safely. As such, Austro Control has extended its decade-long cooperation with Frequentis by launching a drone management solution to enable the safe integration of uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs) into Austrian airspace.

The system, which will be operational by early 2023 will ensure that flight clearances for drones are handled faster, safer and more efficiently in the future in an area where both crewed and uncrewed aircraft are on the move. As such it will offer advantages for drone pilots as well as for Austro Control’s air traffic controllers.

“Drones are among the central topics of the future for Austro Control,” said Austro Control Managing Director, Valerie Hackl. “The possible applications in the commercial sector know hardly any limits. At the same time, there has been a veritable drone boom in the private sector for several years. These developments require a redefinition of airspace. With the air traffic management system, we will make drone flying in Austria even safer in the future.”

Hackl was joined by Frequentis CEO, Norbert Haslacher, who explained that the new UTM drone traffic management system is paving the way for an ecosystem that meets the increasing demand for drone flights in a regulated airspace, thanks to the possibility to embed a wide range of services and the connection of additional user groups.

“We are pleased to implement this forward-thinking project together with our long-standing partner Austro Control” Haslacher said.

With Frequentis’ cloud-based UTM solution, future communication between drone pilots and Austro Control will be based on digitalisation and automation. In the first stage of the joint project, the digital transmission of drone flight plans and the release of drone flights into controlled airspace by air traffic control are on the agenda. Subsequently, in line with EU regulations currently being implemented, drone identification and warnings of restricted airspace will be activated in the system.

Key features of the system that will be gradually implemented over the next few years are: the intuitive application for air traffic controllers and the mobile application for drone pilots enabling the real-time establishment of airspace rules and restrictions, review of flight plans and issue clearances for drone pilots. Other services include warnings of airspace that is closed – even at short notice and digitisation of the previously manual approval of flights. In addition, the traffic management system for drones also supports the Austrian economy, which wants to establish new services on the market through the use of drones.

Header image: Philipp Piber, Managing Director Austro Control; Valerie Hackl, Managing Director Austro Control; Norbert Haslacher, CEO Frequentis © Frequentis

Denmark’s Naviair partners with Frequentis for backup ATM system

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Denmark’s Air Navigation Service Provider (ANSP), Naviair, has selected the PRISMA backup solution from Frequentis Comsoft to replace its existing Clear-The-Sky (CTC) backup Air Traffic Management (ATM) system.

Naviair services the København Flight Information Region (FIR) for all major airports in Denmark, as well as the lower airspace of Greenland and the Faroe Islands. With the main ATM system in use in Denmark regularly requiring updates which sometimes can last for longer periods, a backup ATM system is essential to sustain a continuous traffic capacity of the served airspaces.

The new backup for Area Control Centre and Approach/ Tower units is capable of providing continuous traffic handling, for unlimited time periods. The project will form part of an expansion of the Remote Digital Tower (RDT) contract between Frequentis DFS Aerosense and Naviair. This expansion will build on the PRISMA APP solution integrated in the RDT system currently being implemented for Billund Approach and Tower. It will include PRISMA Enroute for Naviair’s Area Control Centre (ACC) and APP for approach/ tower units in Copenhagen, Billund and Roskilde airports.

“We require a reliable and up-to-date backup ATM system in order to ensure continuous, safety-critical air navigation services,” said Morten Søndergaard, CTO, Naviair, explaining that the need to replace Naviair’s current backup ATM system has been in the pipeline for some time.

Frequentis DFS Aerosense’ integrated digital tower and approach solution was originally selected by Naviair in 2020 to manage increasing airspace demand and support the workload of Air Traffic Control Operators (ATCOs). The initial remote tower centre at Billund Airport will house the system, which is a combination of a RDT and an approach automation solution (PRISMA APP).

“After we had learnt about PRISMA APP in the RDT project we realised the system could provide resiliency in the extreme rare case that our main ATM system suddenly becomes unavailable, but also during planned ATM system maintenance or for AIRAC (Aeronautical Information Regulation and Control) updates. We are looking forward to adding another PRISMA installation to our RDT project with Frequentis DFS Aerosense,” Søndergaard added.

Added value is offered by an open ATM platform, which enables the customer to integrate additional services and and applications either from the Frequentis group or from third-party providers.

The project will be rolled out under the AGILE delivery model and will span over two years.

Systems Interface installs VHF Comms and weather observation system at Somaliland’s Berbera Airport

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UK-based Systems Interface Ltd (SIL) has completed the ‘Turnkey’ contract awarded to them by Berbera International Airport Company (BIAC) in Somaliland for the design, supply, installation and commissioning of a new VHF communications system and Solar Powered Automatic Weather Observation System (AWOS).

The new systems will enhance the safety and efficiency of air traffic operations at the airport, which has recently undergone an extensive refurbishment including the installation of modern equipment and state-of-the-art communication and aeronautical facilities.

SIL’s agreement included the installation of a state-of-the-art radio communication system using Jotron radios with back-up power, as well as two solar powered weather stations comprising ultrasonic wind sensors, pressure and humidity sensors and two 10m frangible masts. It also including the deployment of data radio links from weather station to a DTN MetConsole AWOS Data Processing server in the ATC tower.

Adacel enters new markets with virtual ATC tower acquisition

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Adacel Technologies Limited has acquired a virtual air traffic control (ATC) tower for single and multiple aerodrome operations. This acquisition, including the intellectual property, accelerates Adacel’s entrance in the fast-growing market segment of virtual ATC tower solutions, which is estimated to grow from about US$40m in 2019 to over US$500m by 2027.

The tower is suitable for a variety of functional needs, including integration with existing or new air traffic management, communication navigation and surveillance systems. Its original creator, Cybernetica, with offices in Tallinn, Estonia, developed the virtual tower solution for Estonian Air Navigation Services (EANS).

“We are thrilled with the virtual tower’s acquisition and its progressive technological capabilities. Adacel is committed to ensuring a smooth transition, and we are excited to welcome our customer and team members,” shared Daniel Verret, Adacel’s CEO.

Once it has completed the final stage of Factory Acceptance Testing, the virtual ATC tower system will progress through the certification and deployment processes with EANS. As part of the agreement, Adacel will deploy EANS Vritual Tower for operational use, which will mark the company’s first successful delivery in the virtual ATC tower segment.

Ivar Vark, CEO of EANS commented: “We feel that the acquisition of Cybernetica’s digital tower is a significant step that also benefits our needs and supports our goal to digitise all Estonian regional airports by 2025. We thank Cybernetica for the good cooperation and welcome future cooperation with Adacel.”

He also expressed his gratitude that the core team and its location will remain in Estonia.

Header image: Daniel Verret, Adacel CEO and Oliver Väärtnõu, CEO at Cybernetica shake hands after signing agreement in Tallinn, Estonia

Luxaviation and Rolls Royce collaborate on AAM operations

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Luxury jet and helicopter service provider, Luxaviation, and engine manufacturer, Rolls-Royce, have joined forces to lead the development and deployment of Advanced Air Mobility (AAM). With both companies sharing a vision of AAM solutions including all-electric and hybrid-electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft as well as fixed-wing commuter aircraft, the agreement is focused on operations, vertiports and surrounding infrastructure to support these new markets.

The partnership, which will look at charging and energy infrastructure for vertiports, maintenance provision for electric aircraft and digital solutions for related applications across AAM will see Rolls-Royce provide electrification solutions, maintenance support services, and digital solutions for Luxaviation Group’s planned network of  vertiports.

Commenting on the partnership, Rob Watston, President of Rolls Royce Electrical said: “Rolls-Royce will be the leading provider of all-electric and hybrid-electric power and propulsion systems for AAM. WE are delighted to collaborate with Luxaviation who we believe will be a leading player in the AAM industry and that this collaboration will help both partners to be at the forefront of this new market.

“This strategic partnership also leverages capabilities and technology across Rolls-Royce as we develop the electrical power and propulsion systems for eVTOL and commuter aircraft.”

Meanwhile, Christophe Lapierre, Luxaviation’s Head of Strategy and President Business Aviation Support Services said: “Our common vision to enable early adoption by leveraging existing capabilities places this partnership at an advanced position, considerably pushing the evolution of this new industry segment. Our concept is to provide a solution that is agile and in continuous evolution to scale up AAM operations alongside regulatory development pace and market demand.”

With more than 60 years experience in operations, FBO passenger services and hundreds of aircraft under management, Luxaviation has launched various projects promoting the future of AAM. The first deliverable of this partnership will be the creation and implementation of a pilot project outlining electrical solutions.

NATS extends ATC contract with Micro Nav at three UK hubs

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UK air traffic services provider NATS has renewed its contract for support services with Micro Nav for the air traffic control (ATC) simulation installations at Aberdeen, Glasgow and Manchester airports.

For almost a decade, Micro Nav’s Beginning to End for Simulation and Training (BEST) simulator has been operational for controller refresher training at the three UK hubs.

The simulator is also used for training for North Sea helicopter traffic for the oil rigs at Aberdeen Airport, as well as for training on the new taxiway on the manoeuvring area at Manchester Airport.

In line with the extended agreement, the installations will continue to benefit from Micro Nav’s first class support package, including dedicated support experts and online services.

Having worked with NATS for decades, Micro Nav first delivered a BEST simulator for the College of Air Traffic Control at Hurn, Bournemouth, before it was procured to support the NATS conversion training programme for the New En-Route Centre (NERC) at Swanwick.

UK Government pledges additional funding for airspace upgrade

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Aviation Minister Robert Courts and London City Airport’s CEO, Robert Sinclair. London City was
one of the airports to receive a share of the initial funding in 2021.

The government has announced further funding to redesign the UK’s airspace to create quicker journeys and cut emissions as the industry seeks to build back better following the global pandemic.

Further funding of £3.7 million has been made available to support airports in reducing journey times, pollution and flight delays. The new funding is on top of £5.5 million in government investment that was announced last year and brings the total funding to £9.2 million.

With plans to modernise the UK’s airspace for the first time since the 1950s, the funding will support airports in developing new, more efficient flight routes that make use of modern technology, such as performance-based navigation, which will enable aircraft to fly more precise routes.

Commenting on the additional funding and the UK’s airspace modernisation programme Mark Swan, Head of the Airspace Change Organising Group (ACOG), said: “This programme is a critical national infrastructure project for the UK and will deliver benefits across the country – increasing efficiencies in the routes aircraft fly to supporting the industry to deliver its net zero targets. The additional funding maintains momentum behind the programme following its remobilisation and we look forward to our continued engagement with the government, CAA and airspace change sponsors in delivering airspace modernisation for our country.”

Karen Dee, the Airport Operators Association’s Chief Executive, added: “This additional funding will give airports some essential support to continue this crucial programme of upgrading the UK’s airspace and deliver quicker, quieter and cleaner journeys.

“The UK’s airspace is our invisible infrastructure in the sky, vital to the UK’s connectivity and to the delivery of government agendas like Global Britain. Airspace modernisation is also essential to support aviation as it aims to build back better, so that a recovery to pre-pandemic passenger levels can be delivered with a reduce impact on the environment.”