Singapore takes next step towards implementing world's first space-based VHF communications
The technology will facilitate the safe reduction in separation between aircraft
(From left to right) Mr Tang Kum Chuen, President of Satellite Systems, ST Electronics; Mr Soh Poh Theen, Deputy Director-General (Air Navigation Services), Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS); and Mr Børge Witthøft, Chief Commercial Officer, GomSpace; sign a research collaboration agreement to conduct a design study on the implementation of space-based Very High Frequency (VHF) communications for air traffic management in the Singapore Flight Information Region.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS), Singapore Technologies Electronics Limited (ST Electronics) and GomSpace have signed a research collaboration agreement on the sidelines of the Singapore Airshow this week, to conduct a design study on the implementation of space-based Very High Frequency (VHF) communications for air traffic management (ATM) in the Singapore Flight Information Region (FIR). This agreement follows the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) by the three parties in July 2017 to explore the application and deployment of the space-based system.
The space-based VHF communications system involves the mounting of VHF communications equipment onto a constellation of small low-earth-orbit satellites to enable clear and real-time communications between air traffic controllers and pilots over oceanic airspace. This technology will improve safety and facilitate the safe reduction in separation between aircraft, from the current 80 nautical miles (NM) to potentially 5NM, in airspace where ground-based VHF communications is currently not available, increasing ATM capacity and enabling more efficient use of airspace.
The implementation of space-based VHF communications in the Singapore FIR will entail a design study phase, a proof of concept phase, and finally an operationalisation phase. With the collective expertise of CAAS, ST Electronics and GomSpace, the design study is expected to deliver solutions to overcome implementation challenges identified during the preliminary analyses, by defining baseline requirements, developing conceptual designs and conducting simulations.
“We are constantly planning ahead of the curve, driving innovation and investing in cutting-edge technologies to improve air traffic management in the Singapore FIR and the region. We are encouraged by this next milestone towards implementing space-based VHF communications for ATM, which will be a world-first, and pave the way for more ground-breaking solutions to safely support the growing air traffic in the region,” said Mr Soh Poh Theen, Deputy Director-General (Air Navigation Services), CAAS.
"This agreement will leverage ST Electronics’ domain knowledge in aviation infrastructure systems integration and deep competency in satellite and communication technologies to explore novel applications of small satellites for CAAS and regional air navigation service providers. We are very excited about the prospect of demonstrating a space-based VHF communications and location service for smart air traffic control operations. This sustained collaboration exemplifies our deep focus on application of advanced technologies to deliver solutions that significantly enhance industry operations while creating value for customers," said Mr Tang Kum Chuen, President of Satellite Systems, ST Electronics.
Mr Børge Witthøft, Chief Commercial Officer of GomSpace, added “GomSpace is very pleased with the agreement on this joint study. It is a very exciting area and we hope that the results can contribute positively to future air traffic management. The ultimate goal is to increase safety while at the same time providing the possibility of more optimal flight levels and thus also reducing the amount of fuel used by airlines. With our strong capabilities within satellite communication systems and our year-long track record of monitoring commercial aircraft from space, we are confident that we together with our partners CAAS and ST Electronics can achieve some remarkable results.”
About the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS)
The mission of the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) is to grow a safe, vibrant air hub and civil aviation system, making a key contribution to Singapore's success. CAAS' roles are to oversee and promote safety in the aviation industry, develop the air hub and aviation industry, provide air navigation services, provide aviation training for human resource development, and contribute to the development of international civil aviation. For more information, visit www.caas.gov.sg
About Singapore Technologies Electronics
ST Electronics (Singapore Technologies Electronics Limited) is the electronics arm of Singapore Technologies Engineering Ltd, one of the largest public-listed companies on the Singapore Stock Exchange. ST Electronics is a global engineering company specialising in the design, development and integration of advanced electronics and communications systems. Our capabilities are in Rail & Intelligent Transportation; Satellite & Broadband Communications; Info Comm Technologies; Command & Control operations, Training & Simulation; Intelligent Building & Security Systems and Cybersecurity. We have a presence in over 20 countries spanning North America, Latin America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, China, India and Southeast Asia. For more information, please visit www.stengg.com
GomSpace A/S is a space company with a mission to be engaged in the global market for space systems and services by introducing new products, i.e. components, platforms and systems based on innovation within professional nanosatellites. GomSpace A/S is a subsidiary of GomSpace Group AB, which is listed on the Nasdaq First North Premier exchange under the ticker GOMX. For more information, please visit our website on www.gomspace.com
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 VHF communications is currently not available over some parts of the South China Sea, due to the difficulty of siting ground-based equipment. Space-based VHF communications can surmount such limitations.
 The partnership among CAAS, ST Electronics and GomSpace brings together strong complementary capabilities. As the air navigation services provider for the Singapore FIR, CAAS has decades of experience managing air traffic flows. ST Electronics has more than 45 years of experience in the design, development and integration of advanced electronics and communications systems including real-time mission critical command and control, air traffic management and simulation systems. GomSpace is a leading designer, integrator and manufacturer of high-end small satellites for customers in the academic, government and commercial markets.