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Exclusive: Airservices tests unified air traffic management systems

written by Jake Nelson | March 27, 2024

The newly-constructed CMATS control room at Airservices Australia’s Melbourne facility. (Image: Airservices)

Airservices Australia has begun testing its OneSKY/CMATS air traffic management system ahead of an expected rollout in 2027.

The new Civil Military Air Traffic Management System (CMATS) has been installed at Airservices’ two major control centres in Melbourne and Brisbane, and will now face intensive testing of its operational capabilities, safety, and security following a successful initial Melbourne demonstration.

Described by Airservices as a “system of systems”, the technology is built on a core of Thales’ TopSky air traffic control solution, coupled with additional systems such as voice switching, recording and replay, control and monitoring, and security overlays.

“The successful integration and demonstration of the Melbourne system provides us a greater level of confidence that we’re on schedule for deployment in 2027,” David Webb, Airservices’ head of transformation for OneSKY and aerospace, told Australian Aviation.

“It’s a major milestone because it demonstrates all of the major aspects of the program, being networks, buildings, physical installation of hardware and so on, and then the software, plus all the external interfaces, is functioning correctly.”


When launched, CMATS will unify civil and military air traffic management across Australia’s airspace, as well as implementing more modern cybersecurity measures and improved levels of software assurance than the existing system, which was installed in the 1990s.

According to Webb, one of the main benefits is the ability to flexibly reallocate airspace between the needs of civil and military aviation.

“Military aviation, due to the nature of its new technologies, requires more space to operate. Civil, because of the flexibility provided, then also can operate in new regions of airspace,” said Webb.

“For the flying public, you can improve certainty of flight times, when the aircraft are going to be arriving and departing, because everyone sees the same picture.”

The system is undergoing four rounds of testing, including the integration demonstrations, which show the components are functioning well together; continuous maturity testing, to see whether the functions are working to the satisfaction of air traffic controllers; site testing from late 2025 to early 2026; and operational testing and evaluation to finish by early 2027 ahead of launch.

“Even though we’ve already got the system integrated on site with the software loaded, there’s still three years’ worth of effort to finish updating the software and then to make sure it’s tested in its entirety to ensure it’s safe for deployment,” said Webb.

The two primary Airservices control centres in Melbourne and Brisbane manage around 11 per cent of the world’s airspace between them, including the Australian land mass and large swathes of surrounding oceans.

Read our behind-the-scenes tour of Airservices Australia’s Melbourne control centre in the latest Australian Aviation magazine.

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