Airways New Zealand to install new air traffic management system

A file image from the tower at Christchurch Airport. (Airways New Zealand)
A file image from the tower at Christchurch Airport. (Airways New Zealand)

New Zealand’s air navigation service provider plans to upgrade its air traffic management system (ATM) over the next four years to enhance safety and improve operational flexibility.

Airways New Zealand said it had chosen the Skyline X system from technology company Leidos to replace the country’s two existing ATM platforms as part of a NZ$58 million, four-year contract.

The new system is due to be operational in New Zealand domestic airspace by 2020 and over oceanic airspace in 2021, Airways New Zealand said in a statement on Monday.

“We will be working collaboratively with Leidos to develop this system in a partnership model that will deliver long term savings to our customers,” Airways New Zealand chief operating officer Pauline Lamb said.

“By 2020 the new platform will allow airspace sectors to be operated from two new air traffic control centres in Auckland and Christchurch, in addition to 19 control towers nationwide.”

Airways New Zealand said its two existing ATM platforms were installed in 2000 and 2003, respectively, and were “nearing the end of their useful lives”, with the new system “to provide greater resilience and standardising air traffic control functions to improve operational flexibility”.

“The aim is to deliver enhanced safety and tangible benefits to airline and airport customers in the long term,” it said.

Airways New Zealand said the development of the system would be a collaborative project with Leidos. Meanwhile, it would purchase the hardware and install and test the system.

“This successful partnership model previously saved Airways’ customers around NZ$2.6m per year or NZ$36m across the life of the current ATM platform,” Airways New Zealand said.

Leidos civil group president Angie Heise said the company’s Skyline X technology would help the Airways New Zealand maintain safe and efficient skies amid forecasts which show air traffic was expected to grow 50 per cent over the next 10 years.

“Technology enhancements in Skyline X include efficiencies enabled by the introduction of world-class flow management capabilities, as well as an integrated approach that enables a vision for a single system to support tower, terminal, en-route and oceanic control operations,” Heise said in a statement.

Airways New Zealand said it and Leidos would support the system for 15 years once it became operational.