The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) is expected to issue a request for proposals (RFP) by the end of the year for the first of three planned area-control centres (ACCs) to provide integrated coverage of the eastern half of the country.

Under a national plan drawn up by the CAAC's Air Transport Management Bureau, China's 28 en route control centres will be re-organised into ten ACCs by 2000, covering the country's high-altitude airspace.

Three new fully integrated centres are earmarked for the Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai flight-information regions (FIRs), which now account for up for up 80% of Chinese air traffic.

The new centres are urgently needed to increase traffic capacity in these three trunk areas, which, in the absence of full en route coverage, are now restricted to procedural separations. According to the Air Transport Management Bureau's deputy chief engineer, Duan Heming, congestion resulted in 9,000 delayed flights, or 8.9% of total traffic, in 1996.

Competing European and US air-traffic-management (ATM) system suppliers are urging the CAAC to adopt one standard system for all three ACCs, to simplify integration and minimise costs. The RFP is likely to require pricing for one ACC, with the option to order an additional two.

Chinese authorities have traditionally adopted a piecemeal approach to ordering air-traffic-control (ATC) systems, having in the past bought primary- and secondary-surveillance radars from Alenia, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Thomson-CSF. With around 30 radars of differing types in service or on order, companies tendering for the ACC contract already face a formidable integration challenge.

"The selection and integration of two different systems will add time and cost to the programme," warns Thomson-CSF CNS/ATM product manager Marc Rougier. The company is offering a turnkey solution based on the Eurocat 2000 and the Australian Advanced Air Traffic System, which entails the integration of 25 different radars and 30 ACCs by early 1998.

Raytheon Electronic Systems marketing director Peter Wray is similarly urging China "-to go with one system". Raytheon recently completed a demonstration of its air-traffic-automation system in Beijing, which combined the use of satellite communications and navigation with conventional radar surveillance.

The initial ACC contract is likely to include the supply of radar- and flight-data processors, switching gear, controller consoles, radar and communications interface, buildings and training, as well as provision for growth to automatic dependence surveillance (ADS). China is evaluating the use of ADS to provide surveillance for the less congested western ACCs, such as the Urumqi and Lanzhou FIRs.

Source: Flight International