March 14, 2011

Rohde & Schwarz ensures secure ATC communications for the future with fully IP-based, scalable voice communications system


At ATC Global in Amsterdam, Rohde & Schwarz presented its first voice communications system for cockpit-tower communications. The fully IP-based R&S®VCS-4G has an impressive technological edge: It enables the migration of ATC communications infrastructures to voice over IP. At the same time, this flexible system can be easily integrated into existing analog infrastructures. The R&S®VCS 4G accommodates both voice and data applications. In contrast to competitors' solutions, there is no central switching center – each controller working position (CWP) handles its own switching. The decentralized system architecture of the R&S®VCS-4G provides extremely reliable cockpit-tower communications. ATC authorities can now rely on the solutions from the ATC specialist, Rohde & Schwarz, for the entire communications path.

Air traffic safety depends to a large extent on uninterrupted voice communications between air traffic controllers and pilots. This is why, in addition to radio networks, voice communications systems such as the R&S®VCS-4G IP-based voice communicaitons system are core components of air traffic management systems. VCS connect air traffic controllers’ stations with (usually remote) radio systems. VCS also allow air traffic controllers to communicate with each other or with parties in PABX or external networks. Until now, connections were usually made with analog, 64K or E1 transmission lines. But the future of communications belongs to voice over IP (VoIP), which is what the new Rohde & Schwarz voice communications system delivers.

The R&S®VCS-4G is a fully IP-based voice communications system. It meets the EUROCAE ED137 standard, which defines the use of VoIP in air traffic management networks. The system provides air traffic authorities with a solution that offers all the advantages of IP technology. For example, voice and data transmission can be integrated into a single network, which reduces infrastructure costs. Investing in VoIP today is a decision for a secure future. The R&S®VCS-4G also protects earlier investments. Via radio and telephony gateways, it can be integrated in analog radio infrastructures, TDM-based VCS, or conventional telecommunications networks – an important feature since the migration to VoIP is just getting started.

A key advantage of the VCS solution from Rohde & Schwarz is its flexibility. ATC authorities can scale the R&S®VCS-4G system to meet their requirements – from a single CWP to fully equipped area control centers. Conventional TDM-based VCS have a central switching center. If the switching center fails, several, or even all of the CWPs are affected. The R&S VCS-4G has a decentralized architecture where each CWP handles its own switching. Since there is no dependency on central switching centers, the VCS from Rohde & Schwarz has high availability and is extremely fail-safe. This decentralized system can be easily scaled up when more capacity is needed. In systems with a centralized architecture, future expansion has to be taken into account from the very beginning.

Users select which radio channels they want to use for pilot communications via the R&S®VCS-4G graphical user interface – a customizable interface that users can configure to meet their requirements. In addition to voice communications, data applications such as airport video surveillance, weather information and alarm functions can also be integrated. Air traffic controllers can use this additional information to assess and quickly respond to critical situations. Radios from the Rohde & Schwarz R&S®Series4200 and R&S®M3SR Series4400 radio families can be monitored and remotely controlled from the R&S®VCS-4G CWP via IP. Users can see what radio channels are available, change frequencies, and quickly respond to a fault.

The R&S®VCS 4G IP-based voice communications system from Rohde & Schwarz is a complete single-source system solution – from the microphone to the CWP to the radio and antenna.