UK Air Traffic Control provider NATS selects Rohde & Schwarz for Second Voice System

Posted on: February 07, 2017

Tim Bullock (left) and Bosco Novak shaking hands after signing the contract for the cooperation on the Second Voice System. Rohde & Schwarz CEO Christian Leicher (front right) was also present.

NATS has selected the R&S VCS-4G IP-based voice communications system from Rohde & Schwarz as its second voice system for its air traffic control (ATC) communications in UK airspace. The voice over IP (VoIP) COTS solution from the Munich-based electronics firm was chosen based on its reliability, innovation and flexibility to create a single platform across NATS’ Swanwick and Prestwick control centers. In addition, the company has agreed to an accelerated delivery schedule to support NATS in their “Deploying SESAR” transformation programme.

Rohde & Schwarz will provide the British air traffic service provider NATS with the IP-based voice communications system R&S VCS-4G. Within the framework of the Single European Sky (SES) initiative, NATS will modernize its entire air traffic management (ATM) infrastructure over the next few years. Tim Bullock, Director Supply Chain Management at NATS, explains: “NATS controls more than 2.4 million flights every year. Our systems must be both flexible and able to handle heavy workloads in order to ensure efficient operations for airlines and passengers alike. We have found in Rohde & Schwarz an innovative and reliable partner. We welcome them to the collaborative team of suppliers joining us on our ATM transformation journey towards SESAR deployment.”

Rohde & Schwarz will begin the implementation of the second voice system in 2017. It will provide enhanced resilience for voice based radio communications in UK airspace. The air traffic control centers in Swanwick and Prestwick as well as the NATS corporate and technical centre in Whiteley will all be equipped in a phased deployment that will be completed by 2020. The order includes the delivery, implementation and through-life support of more than 450 R&S VCS-4G controller working positions (CWP). Up to 1700 radios and various ground-ground lines will be connected to the system.

According to Bosco Novak, Executive Vice President Secure Communications Division at Rohde & Schwarz: “NATS is a forerunner in the deployment of SESAR and introducing new technologies. It will be the first air traffic control provider in Europe to completely migrate all of its ATC communications to IP. Deploying our technology as the second voice system will increase service resilience and add operational flexibility to NATS business operation.”

As airspace becomes more crowded, there is an increased demand for flexible, load-based reallocation of resources while ensuring efficient and sustainable air traffic control in line with the highest safety standards. Rohde & Schwarz is a proven provider on the market offering the ability to create virtual control centres. The electronics firm meets this challenge with the R&S VCS-4G IP based voice communications system. The fully VoIP-based system in line with the EUROCAE ED-137 B standard features a distributed, redundant architecture. It will link the control centres in Swanwick and Prestwick and provide the geographic flexibility to manage their operations as one operational environment in the future.

Rohde & Schwarz is participating in the World ATM Congress 2017 in Madrid. From March 7 to 9, the company will showcase its comprehensive portfolio for state-of-the-art air traffic management at booth 586, hall 9. More information: