New Southern Sky air traffic management

The Air Traffic Management (ATM) system will shift focus from providing services that control to services that enable air traffic to promote efficient and safe airspace use.

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New Zealand’s small aviation system means that our ATM system is already reasonably well integrated. However on-going improvements to ATM tools, combined with the new surveillance, information and navigation technologies facilitated by New Southern Sky, will ensure more efficient flow management and conflict detection – reducing operator costs and improving safety.

Changes in the ATM system will require contingency planning to be up to date and all participants in the system to be trained and aware of the new environment.

What do we already know?

In March 2017, Airways New Zealand announced 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. Take a look at Skyline ATM in the video below.

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 control centres in Auckland and Christchurch, in addition to 19 control towers nationwide.” 

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.

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