If you had a safe and comfortable flight into Changi Airport, you can probably thank Thales (Hall A/319). Not only was the company responsible for the installation of the airport's air traffic control (ATC) system, but it is a leading player in airline and aircraft security too.

As Francois Lureau, executive vice-president and chief executive of Thales Aerospace, points out: "Security is the heart of our business with 10,000 of our 65,000 employees engaged in that field.

"Thales was ahead in the security game even before the events of 11 September – our original ‘Thomfans' unit was set up to look at security back in 1995. But we also introduced a new taskforce post-11 September to rethink the risks involved.

"We already had digital fingerprint readers available to control access into sensitive airport zones, and turnkey systems to deliver ID cards and tickets that could not be reproduced or counterfeited," says Lureau.


"We also had onboard cameras available that could operate in any light, even total darkness – several airlines have recently ordered them."

Thales Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Contract (ADS-C) systems, that automatically send position data back to the ground, were also already available, and the company is now working on modifications to S-band transponders so that they cannot be disconnected – the "hijack" code remains active to alert control centres if there is a problem.

Air-to-ground transmission of pictures from onboard cameras via secure data links are also a short-term initiative, as are ATC aids that automatically trigger alarms in case of unplanned changes in flight paths, entry into forbidden zones or if there is a risk of collision.


In the long term, Thales is working on further automatic aircraft controls, including using the aircraft's Ground Collision Avoidance System (GCAS) to prevent aircraft from descending under a safe altitude and use of the Flight Management System (FMS) and autopilot to guide the aircraft to a specified airport.

But as Lureau points out, Air Traffic Management (ATM) solutions from Thales are also helping to keep aircraft safe.

"The installation of Changi's Long Range Radar and Display System (LORADS II) in 1996 paved the way for the success of our ATM business in the region. Singapore was, and still is, keen on buying the latest technology first," says Lureau.

Thales now has major ATM installations in Australia, South Korea, India and Malaysia, and has had major recent wins in China, Indonesia, Thailand and Cambodia.

"The contract for an integrated ATM system in Beijing, Shanghai and Guagzhou is worth more than $80 million and is due for completion in 2004," Lureau adds. "It will include more than 200 air traffic control workstations when it is opened in 2004.

Source: Flight Daily News