The shape of air travel is changing, and so is the shape of airports.
New building work is taking place at a number of major international air hubs and each structure that goes up or is re-configured produces problems for communications.
“It is vital that controllers can talk to aircraft and that aircraft can talk to each other,” says ATDI operations director Peter Paul, “and never is that more true than when planes are on the ground. It is at airports that they are closest to each other, in their largest numbers and carrying their greatest fuel load so excellent radio contact is essential to safety.”
ATDI has been working with airport operators across Europe and the Middle East to ensure that communications are maintained despite the radio shadow created by new terminals and other buildings.
“There is, of course, an economic factor here,” Peter notes. “As with everywhere else, an airport can have an infinitely good radio system if it is prepared to pay an infinite amount of money for it. But, of course, no company in the world wants to spend money it doesn’t have to. In a number of countries, ATDI has applied its planning, modelling and consulting expertise to establish how communications can be maintained – or, indeed, enhanced – with the minimum of outlay on new equipment.”
Specifically, the company’s engineers have analysed whether all aircraft are in radio contact for 100% of the time they spend on the ground no matter where on the airport they are and no matter what buildings are being put between them and controllers.
“There’s been no margin for error,” Peter says, “but that’s exactly the kind of situation that brings out the best in an engineer.”