Last Updated: 10/23/2012*
The world urgently needs to upgrade its air traffic control systems, especially as rising incomes in the developing world allow millions of people to fly for the first time, the head of Raytheon’s air traffic control business says.
The best way to handle the coming traffic squeeze is with Next Generation technology that allows for more efficient routes, said Dan Crowley, president of Raytheon’s Network Centric Systems.
“The air traffic system is already stressed at the current capacity,” Crowley said. “We know there will be a need for increased density in the skies, and therefore improved air traffic control.”
By 2030 the number of people flying will double to 5.9 billion, according to projections by the International Air Transport Association.
Latin America’s passenger air travel grew 10.2 percent last year, and the Middle East’s grew 8.9 percent, the association said in a February report. That far outpaced growth in North America, where passenger traffic grew 4 percent.
In India, Raytheon has been installing state-of-the-art equipment to meet growing demand.
“We’re well positioned for that increase that we know is coming,” Crowley said.
Air traffic controllers use Raytheon’s AutoTrac III system at India's three major airports – Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai.
The system combines flight tracking, navigational data and weather in one system, allowing controllers to make better decisions about where to send planes.
Raytheon is also building the ground stations for India’s GPS-Aided Geosynchronous Augmented Navigation (GAGAN) System, which will provide satellite-based navigation for civil aviation over Indian airspace and adjoining areas in South and East Asia.
In Dubai, controllers are testing AutoTrac III at Al Maktoum International Airport. The system should be fully operational later this year.
In Hong Kong, Raytheon’s automation system is being installed at Chek Lap Kok International Airport.
Raytheon’s Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) equipment promises to bring air traffic control to many countries that could not afford it in the past.
Unlike radar, which reflects beams of radio energy off planes to detect them, ADS-B allows planes to broadcast their own locations to controllers and other aircraft.
The ground receiver is small — about the size of a digital TV receiver — but it provides the same kind of display as a radar tower and rotating dish.
The technology also allows planes to fly shorter routes and plan flights more accurately.
“You save fuel, you save time,” Crowley said. “You can plan the flight from pushback to parking.”
In addition to permanently installed air traffic control, Raytheon is also building mobile systems that can be quickly deployed after natural disasters.
The company’s Mobile Air Traffic Control System fits inside three containers and contains everything controllers need: radar, communications gear and control systems. It is the civilian version of Raytheon’s Deployable Radar Approach Control system, or D-RAPCON.
Raytheon also makes a mobile landing system to guide aircraft to the runway in bad weather, the Air Traffic Navigation, Integration and Coordination System. Four people can set up the system in less than an hour.
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