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Helping aviation through the COVID crash

written by Staff reporter | December 1, 2020

How can air navigation service providers and suppliers work collaboratively to help the aviation industry speed up its recovery from the COVID slump? Frequentis Australasia managing director, Martin Rampl, explains.

The effects of COVID-19 continue to be felt across the globe with the aviation industry being particularly badly affected. Although the number of flights is slowly increasing, the revenues of airlines and air navigation service providers (ANSPs) have been enormously affected and remain low. In Australia and New Zealand, the international borders remain largely closed and the number of aircraft movements is not expected to reach pre-COVID levels until at least 2023. As a result, ANSPs must carefully review which infrastructure projects they can afford to invest in and, in particular, investigate alternative commercial models that will allow them to survive this current crisis.

Airservices Australia manages two Flight Information Regions (FIRs), which account for 11 per cent of the world’s airspace. Communication, navigation and surveillance equipment in the region is installed at some extremely remote locations and, as with all safety critical systems, the infrastructure and the network that connects them must be resilient and able to continuously provide its service, no matter the number of aircraft movements.

Typically, ANSPs have procured their systems as part of a capital expenditure plan, which requires large up-front funding. However, there are more cost-effective delivery models that allow the ANSPs to acquire a service through their ongoing operational expenditure rather than the actual assets, thereby allowing some costs to be deferred to a later period.

There are a range of models that are typically used where an organisation chooses to engage a specialist provider to supply safety-critical communications solutions. With each having their own strengths and weaknesses, it can be difficult to understand what will work best in the connected, contemporary communications environment.

 Lowering cost of ownership

Typically, we find that communications-critical businesses prefer a managed service model as it allows flexibility in terms of asset ownership. This lowers the total cost of ownership (TCO) across the life cycle, while also leveraging a capable partner with industrialised processes, regulatory compliance capabilities and commercial offerings, and insights to drive high quality of service.

With a capable, trusted partner delivering modern managed services, organisations can simplify the approach to successfully supporting mission‑critical communications. By establishing a close relationship with a trusted delivery partner that has the domain expertise, experience, trust of clients, global footprint, and capabilities across industries, organisations can focus on their core business and what really matters to their stakeholders.

Global examples

Frequentis has delivered a network management project across a number of Latin American and Caribbean countries, which uses a range of commercial models. The program required a regional approach to enhance radar and voice coverage, which resulted in the MEVA (Mejoras al Enlace de Voz del ATS) network. This provides interactive voice and data telecommunication services and a transport layer for ADS-B. Frequentis provides the satellite links as a managed service, monitoring the status and the end to end availability of the network. The Frequentis solution allowed member states to share data more easily, improving network reliability and performance. Being a managed service model, if the required service is not provided the user does not pay. One important benefit for the ANSPs is that the operational risk is fully consumed and mitigated by Frequentis, including preventative maintenance and the required upgrades to meet the agreed service levels.

The Brazilian air traffic control authorities DECEA and CISCEA have also worked with Frequentis to implement a nationwide air traffic control network across its twenty-two million square kilometres of airspace. The airspace, about twice the size of Europe, is split between multiple network providers and one of the telecom infrastructure challenges to overcome was unstable QoS (quality of service) and the detection of degradation in network performance, known as “brownouts”, within the network to allow detection before failure. Frequentis designed the hybrid Brazilian ATM-grade network solution to fill the gap between conventional networks and the specific needs for air traffic management (ATM) in terms of resilience, reliability, safety and quality.

By bringing together global capabilities and experience in service management, maintenance solutions, technical operation solutions, and life cycle services solutions, Frequentis proactively simplifies, modernises and supports the provision of safety-critical communications services.

Company info

Frequentis, headquartered in Austria, is an international supplier of communication and information systems for control centres with safety-critical tasks. Such ‘control centre solutions’ are developed and marketed by Frequentis in the business sectors air traffic management (civil and military air traffic control, air defence) and public safety and transport (police, fire brigade, ambulance services, shipping, railways). As a global player, Frequentis operates a worldwide network of branches, subsidiaries and local representatives in more than 50 countries. In Australia Frequentis has a strong local presence and is headquartered in Brisbane with local offices in Melbourne, Sydney and Perth. Frequentis solutions are built, integrated and maintained in Australia by its local workforce supported by local suppliers and partners.

Frequentis provides a wide range of commercial and customised tools and infrastructure, all depending on the use cases required by customers. The company’s voice communication system (VCS) and Airfield Management System (AFM) are currently part of the ongoing OneSky program, providing a combined civilian and Defence ATM system for Australia, set to be the most advanced and integrated in the world.

For more information, visit www.frequentis.com

You can also catch Martin Rampl talking about the effects of COVID on aviation in this podcast.

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