Airservices Australia and the Department of Defence have signed contracts signifying a major milestone in unifying the nation’s civil and military air traffic management systems.
“It’s probably the biggest development in the safe management of Australia’s skies since aviation began in this nation,” Airservices Australia CEO Jason Harfield said.
As air traffic continues to grow rapidly across Australia, the $1.2 billion OneSKY contract will enhance safety while reducing flight times and delays for the travelling public.
It will be achieved through a system known as CMATS – the Civil Military Air Traffic Control System.
Developed in partnership by Airservices and Defence with Thales Australia, the new system will see air traffic controllers use advanced technology and real-time traffic prediction tools, as they guide aircraft and the flying public safely to their destinations.
Airlines will have more flexibility to fly the most efficient routes for their aircraft, spending less time in the air, saving fuel and reducing carbon emissions.
Marking the milestone, Harfield said OneSKY would provide the nation’s growing aviation sector with a future-proof system.
“OneSKY is game-changing. It is transformative, not only for air traffic management in Australia, but world-wide there is nothing like it,” Harfield said.
“This state-of-the-art system means for the first time, civil and military air traffic controllers will share the same integrated air traffic management system, using the same information to jointly manage 11 per cent of the world’s airspace for which Australia is responsible.
“Although executing the final contracts is a significant milestone, it’s not the beginning. We’ve been focused on implementation for a while,” Harfield said.
Substantial progress towards the delivery of CMATS under advanced work orders, has already been made with a view to delivering the enhanced safety and economic benefits to the aviation industry as soon as possible.
“In 2017, we commenced installation of the first phase of the new Voice Communication System, which will be commissioned later this year.
“We have also completed the system requirements review in January, which means Airservices, Defence and Thales have a common agreed understanding of the system’s requirements.
“This has significantly reduced risks in the project prior to finalising the commercial and contractual arrangements.
“Reducing uncertainty in system requirements prior to finalising the contracts, was a critical risk reduction strategy developed to address the challenges that other major overseas air traffic control providers experienced with their own system replacements.
“In reaching this milestone, our priority has and will always be, the continued safety, security and efficiency of Australia’s airspace,” he said.
OneSKY will leverage Thales’s proven track record in Air Traffic Management systems, dual civil/military interoperability and use the latest digital technologies in the fields of connectivity, big data and AI to improve flight co-ordination, safely increase the use of airspace, optimise air traffic flow and improve the way planes approach the runway. Drawing on its cybersecurity expertise, Thales said it will ensure the integrity of the connectivity that will drive this interoperability.
“For passengers the programme will reduce travel times and delays. For airlines, OneSKY seeks to maintain safety levels at increased volumes to enable them to increase their routes, whilst reducing fuel burn and CO2 emissions,” it said. “The Australian Air Force will benefit from safer co-ordination with civilian air movements, thus helping them accomplish their mission of protecting Australia and its citizens more efficiently.”
The development and delivery of OneSKY will support over 500 highly skilled, high-tech jobs, of which 450 are in Melbourne as well as a further 50 jobs in similar disciplines in France. To this approximately 200 more jobs will be supported across the entire supply chain in Australia It builds on the long term investment by Thales and comprehensive technology transfer that has brought world-leading R&D in ATM systems to Melbourne.