Park Air Systems, a UK-based air traffic management subsidiary of Northrop Grumman, has upgraded the ground-to-air radio communications at Heathrow Airport with new radios and servers.
Centred on the Park Air T6 radio and the MARC Server computer system, part of the Park Air Sapphire portfolio, the solution is live from today at London’s busiest airport.

With passenger numbers at Heathrow increasing annually since 2011 to a peak of over 75m in 2016, Park Air Systems have worked extensively to provide communications that can support the growing number of passengers.

The company told The Cambridge Phenomenon that during the redesign of the T6 radio, engineers from Northrop Grumman folded origami models of each component from blocks of foam, to test their suitability inside the radio’ casing.

Engineers associated with the National Air Traffic Services (NATS), which provides services to 2.4m UK flights annually, were trained in the new equipment at the Park Air Academy, a purpose-built facility operated by Park Air Systems.

Danny Milligan, managing director of Northrop Grumman, said that “we have enjoyed a strong and productive relationship with NATS for many years and are very happy they chose us to support them with such a major programme. We look forward to seeing the Park Air Sapphire System in use at this airport.”

The first version of the T6 radio was released in 1999 and went on to sell over 20,000 units globally, becoming Park Air Systems’ most popular product. According to Northrop Grumman, “it meets stringent environmental demands with significantly lower power consumption.” It boasts a version three Simple Network Management Protocol for additional security, and has demonstrated its effectiveness in tests from 22 to 55oC.

The radio is also constructed from safe components; no materials specified in the EU Restriction of Hazardous Substances directive, enforced from 2011, are found in the radios. In addition to making the devices safer at the point of use, this means they can be disposed with little threat to people or the environment, leading to “lower end-of-life disposal costs.”

The MARC Server is a piece of plug-in software designed to monitor and control devices such as the T6. The program is browser-based, and so can be accessed from a range of devices including laptops and tablets, and has been designed to support a range of high and low-bandwidth networks.