Rohde & Schwarz has secured a contract from Cranfield University to install its fully IP R&S VCS-4G voice communications system at Cranfield Airport in the UK.

The tower, which is claimed to be the UK’s first digital control tower, is scheduled to go live in December this year.

Under the terms of the contract, Rohde & Schwarz will supply and install four controller working positions at Cranfield Airport with a full IP voice communications system (VCS) to support secure air traffic control (ATC) communications.

The R&S VCS-4G system will deliver a fully integrated digital solution that will support voice communications, video streams, data communications and other services.

The solution is capable of integrating and interfacing the analogue radios and the existing analogue telephone lines with VoIP technology embedded in the fully IP based R&S VCS-4G system.

“With our system, Cranfield has chosen a seamless and fully integrated solution, which addresses the airport’s current communication requirements.”

It allows management of data streams as well as door access control and other functions within the VCS, which makes it a central platform for the implementation of the Digital Control Tower.

Rohde & Schwarz market segment ATC vice-president Constantin von Reden said: “With our system, Cranfield has chosen a seamless and fully integrated solution, which addresses the airport’s current communication requirements, and is capable of being adapted and modified as the airport grows in size and functionality.”

Upon completion of installation, the digital control tower will be able to provide a live feed of panoramic views across the airfield using HD cameras and sensors, which will be quite similar to what can be seen through the windows of a traditional air traffic control tower.

Besides allowing controllers to zoom in on aircraft for improved visibility, the new system digitises and integrates airport functions and improves a controller’s situational awareness, enabling quick and informed decisions.

As part of the project, a mast equipped with cameras and sensors will be installed at Cranfield Airport to record activity. The data will be projected onto a 360-degree view on large screens in front of air traffic controllers.

The facility is expected to further improve Cranfield University’s research capabilities, which include the Aerospace Integration Research Centre (AIRC) and the newly announced Digital Aviation Research and Technology Centre (DARTeC).