The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) and Thales are to set up a S$30 million Joint Aviation Innovation Research (AIR) Lab in Singapore to drive innovation in new air traffic management (ATM) technologies.
The agreement to establish the AIR Lab was signed between Kevin Shum, director-general, CAAS, and Jean Ferré, vice-president air traffic management, Thales, on the sidelines of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Innovation Fair in Montreal.
The AIR Lab will focus on the development of an Open ATM System architecture minimum viable product as its immediate priority. This project will be a key enabler for CAAS’ next-generation ATM system. Through the AIR Lab, Thales will be increasing its level of investments into ATM-related research in Singapore by bringing in domain experts and hiring software engineers, system engineers and integrators. Supported by the Aviation Transformation Programme (ATP), which seeks to develop innovative ATM solutions for Singapore.
The Aviation Transformation Programme builds up Singapore’s R&D capabilities to address challenges arising from increased air traffic and constraints in manpower, land and airspace. Supported by the National Research Foundation Singapore, the programme facilitates collaboration between the industry and the research community in developing innovative solutions to solve challenges faced by the aviation sector.
The AIR Lab will also provide a platform for multiple stakeholders, including Singapore enterprises with complementary capabilities, to collaborate on these new technologies and develop corresponding prototypes. It builds on the deep partnership and collaboration between CAAS and Thales.
In February 2018, the two organisations signed a Memorandum of Understanding to cooperate on developing new concepts of operations for ATM as well as the next generation of digital ATM technologies. In March this year, a follow-up agreement was signed at the World ATM Congress in Madrid to conduct research and development for an Open ATM System architecture.
An Open ATM System architecture is modular, scalable and supplier agnostic. It therefore enables greater flexibility and new ATM innovations to be integrated at an accelerated pace. An Open ATM System architecture will also benefit the ATM community and air navigation service providers (ANSP) who can tap on the R&D knowledge and architecture to level up their ATM systems and innovate improvements.
Shum said: “CAAS is constantly looking ahead and ensuring that we are future-ready. The solutions developed by the Lab will enable CAAS to manage the increasingly complex ATM operations in one of the busiest and most complex airspaces in the world.
“The AIR Lab is the first of its kind for Thales in Asia and will allow us to pioneer new technologies with CAAS in the digital aviation field. It serves as a great tool for Thales to tap on and develop expertise to Singapore’s ATM and ANSP ecosystem, while working in close partnership with CAAS and other complementary partners to build capabilities for the future,” said Ferré.
The AIR Lab is expected to be launched in early 2020 and will be established for an initial period of three years. The AIR Lab will be co-located with the Thales Digital Factory in Singapore to draw on synergies between the two facilities.