SITA has been selected by Spanish air traffic controller Entidad Pública Aeropuertos Españoles y Navegación Aérea (AENA) to upgrade its air to ground radio network to comply with European regulations on the implementation of data link services.

The regulation calls for the deployment of VHF Digital Link (VDL) Mode 2 along with the Aeronautical Telecommunication Network (ATN) or ATN/VDLm2 to meet the provisions of Single European Sky.

The AENA agreement comprises the upgrade of 27 VHF ground stations, which were acquired from SITA in 2002, and the installation of 11 new ground stations.

The agreement also includes the delivery of an independent VDLm2 frequency, an ATN infrastructure and a monitoring platform from ALTYS Technologies.

Jesus Cid, AENA Air Navigation Communications Division head, said: "Working with SITA means that we can count on an ideal partner for the essential upgrade of the AENA VHF radio network to meet the requirements of the European mandate related to ATN/VDLm2 infrastructure."

Cid said: "It is important for AENA that we continue to improve the management of Spain’s air space and participate in the Single European Sky project which will deliver both safety and environmental improvements across Europe."

According to the Airbus Global Market Forecast 2011-2030 report, air traffic in Spain’s airspace which includes mainland Spain, the Balearic and Canary Islands will almost double by 2030.

SITA said, with the growth of air traffic the in the region, the introduction of air to ground data link services is required to provide Spanish air space with reduced pilot and controller workload, enhanced air route capacity and to improve safety.

Philip Clinch, SITA Aircraft Services vice president, said: "This two-phase project to upgrade and expand Spain’s VHF ground station network has already begun and will be completed by next year."

Clinch added: "This confirms AENA’s leadership in meeting the requirements of the European mandate to offer CPDLC (Controller Pilot Data Link Communications) service to airlines operating in Spanish airspace, the majority of which already use SITA’s AIRCOM services."

As per the European regulation for the implementation of Data Link Services, from 2013 all EU air navigation service providers and airspace users operating in their airspace will be equipped with the ICAO-compliant technology based around the ATN and VDLm2.

CPDLC facilitates pilots and air traffic controllers to exchange certain routine air traffic control messages through data link replacing the traditional means of communication over radio.

EUROCONTROL, the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation, anticipates that the implementation of CPDLC in European airspace will bring a 11% rise in capacity and a 29% reduction in controller workload while enhancing the safety.

SITA has also provided air to ground data link infrastructure or systems to the air navigation service providers of Germany (DFS), EUROCONTROL Maastricht, FABEC (Functional Airspace Block – Europe Central), UK (NATS) and Portugal (NAV Portugal).