The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with GomSpace and Singapore Technologies (ST) Electronics to explore using space-based very high-frequency (VHF) communications for air traffic management (ATM) in and around the country's airspace. 

CAAS is the air navigation services provider for the Singapore flight information region (FIR).

Deployment of the space-based VHF communications is intended to improved Singapore’s communications capability and also complement the nation’s existing ground-based equipment. 

The new concept involves the installation of VHF communications equipment onto a constellation of low-earth-orbit satellites to facilitate clear, cost-effective and real-time communications between air traffic controllers and aircraft pilots anywhere.

CAAS director-general Kevin Shum said: “CAAS is committed to continually investing in cutting-edge and innovative solutions to ensure that we can safely support the growing air traffic in the region. 

"With this collaboration, Singapore will be the first country in the world to move towards space-based VHF communications. This technology will enable CAAS to improve traffic throughput in the Singapore FIR, while enhancing safety and efficiency of ATM."

"With this collaboration, Singapore will be the first country in the world to move towards space-based VHF communications."

The space-based technology will improve flight safety and allow the safe reduction in separation between aircraft in airspace where ground-based VHF communications is currently not available.

This will in turn help enhance ATM capacity, as well as reduce delays in flight movements.

Danish company GomSpace designs, integrates and develops high-end nanosatellites for customers in the academic, government and commercial markets.

ST Electronics designs, manufactures and integrates the latest electronics and communications systems, including real-time mission-critical command and control, air traffic management and simulation solutions.

Image: CAAS, GomSpace and ST Electronics sign MoU to explore application and deployment of space-based VHF communications for air traffic management in Singapore. Photo: courtesy of GomSpace.