$91 million contract to revamp infrastructure

After years of planning, China is going ahead with a sweeping modernisation of its en route air traffic control (ATC) infrastructure to support the country's huge growth in traffic.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has awarded a contract valued at €100 million ($91.8 million) to Thales ATM covering the supply and installation of an integrated air traffic management (ATM) system.

It covers the installation of systems for en route centres at Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai, as well as three approach centres and four control towers which will serve the country's main air routes.

Thales ATM says the new systems will include more than 200 ATC workstations "and will provide China with the capacity and advanced functionalities to allow the controllers to safely handle Chinese airspace". Installation is due to be completed by 2004 as part of the long-studied project known as NESACC (Northern, Eastern and Southern Area Control Centres).

Thales ATM claims the systems will control up to 80% of current air traffic and will be able to support the nation's economic development "into the first half of the new century".

China has more than 1,150 air routes and traffic is growing at between 6% and 10% annually. The new systems will help the CAAC consolidate airspace management and move away from procedural systems. The new systems, based on Thales ATM's Eurocat 2000, provides high levels of automation, and includes automatic dependent surveillance and controller-pilot datalink communication capabilities.

The selection of Thales ATM has come after a three-year bid process that also saw Raytheon making it to the shortlist of two candidates. Raytheon was seen as a strong challenger as it has already supplied a wide variety of ATC equipment in the country.

Thales ATM says a key part of the NESACC project will be the transfer of expertise "through the involvement of CAAC engineers and technicians in the development and implementation teams from the early stages".

Source: Flight International