News

Airways announces contract for new ATM system

08/03/17

The National Airspace and Air Navigation Plan from which the New Southern Sky takes its guidance for modernising the New Zealand aviation system, states: ‘New Zealand’s future air traffic control systems will need to become more sophisticated to manage technologically advanced aircraft, while also ensuring that other operations are considered and accommodated as appropriate.’

A significant initiative which will help enable this is this week's announcement by Airways that it will replace its current air traffic management (ATM) platforms in a $58m project over the next four years. Following a full procurement process Airways has awarded a contract to global science and technology company Leidos to collaborate on software development.

The Leidos Skyline X system will replace Airways’ two existing ATM platforms which were installed between 2000 and 2003 and are nearing the end of their useful lives. The system is expected to become operational in New Zealand’s domestic airspace in 2020 and in oceanic airspace in 2021.

Airways chief operating officer, Pauline Lamb explains that the new system will allow Airways to implement a new operating model as well as take advantage of advances in tools to optimise the air traffic system and staff deployment. The aim is to deliver enhanced safety and tangible benefits to airline and airport customers in the long term.

The alternative model includes operating from two centres to provide greater resilience and standardising air traffic control functions to improve operational flexibility.

Pauline Lamb says, “We will be working collaboratively with Leidos to develop this system in a partnership model that will deliver long term savings to our customers.

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

Advanced tools such as medium and long term conflict alerting, time based separation and arrival and departure management tools will be part of the system which will also feature a dual channel architecture for greater resilience.

The development of the system will be a collaborative project between Leidos and Airways’ software development teams, with Airways purchasing the hardware and installing and testing the system. This successful partnership model previously saved Airways’ customers around $2.6m per year or $36m across the life of the current ATM platform.

"Air traffic is forecast to grow by 50% over the next decade. The expertise of Leidos and the ongoing development of our SkyLine X technology will support Airways New Zealand in their continuing effort to deliver safe and efficient air traffic management to meet the increased demand,” said Leidos Civil Group President, Angie Heise. “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."

Airways and Leidos will continue to support and enhance the system over a fifteen-year period, once it becomes operational.