Update for Sydney airport radio

Monday, 02 April, 2007

A fully digital switching and multiplexing communications system that integrates voice (radio and telephone), data paging and video has been installed at Sydney airport.

Running on a fibre-optic or a copper backbone, the system, called Acom, can use a single switch to support more than 1500 non-blocking channels allowing the makers, Zetron, to create a system with virtually any capacity.

Communications centres in different areas can be networked to provide distributed switching and wide area control using technologies such as voice and video over IP and 'digital at the desktop' functions such as encryption and data compression.

Sydney Airport is Australia's major hub for domestic and international air traffic as well as being the country's busiest airport, handling over 28 million passengers a year. In 1905, it was ranked among the top airports in the world for excellence.

The three main terminals, T1 international, T2 multi-user domestic and T3 Qantas domestic, handle a total of 66 aircraft and over 17,000 passengers an hour. A typical day at the airport sees around 77,000 passengers travelling through the international and domestic terminals. Forty international carriers operate scheduled services to Australia through the T1 terminal with total passenger throughput of 7000 an hour.

The Sydney Airport Corporation Ltd operates the airport and its responsibilities include all aspects of airport management, including the buildings, businesses, apron, security, facilities, maintenance, car parks, check-in counters, baggage systems.

It was two years ago that the corporation decided to replace and upgrade its ageing communications system to provide:

  • A system that could be configured to user needs;
  • Technology based on an 'open system' architecture to ensure compatibility with a wide range of communications;
  • Integrated radio and telephone as these are the most used modes of communication;
  • A system that can be expanded as needs grow.

The airport network is controlled by 10 operators who are linked to the international terminals by 18 radio bases, 24 PABX circuits and 12 direct hotline circuits. It is designed to allow the airport to coordinate aircraft carriers, apron staff, airport staff and security.

The system has four elements of control. These are: the electronics that manage the switching, multiplexing and interfacing of all communications resources; the user interface that is a video display unit for system configuration, diagnostics and maintenance; system architecture that is the dispatch console containing a range of interfaces and protocols; the network architecture that allows multiple communication centres and their resources to be networked using TI/EI links, optical fibre, telephone and data services.

The capabilities of the system include radio dispatch, trunked radio interfaces and protocols, selective calling (SELCAL), analog and digital data telemetry.

Switching software ensures interconnection between radio, telephone and data channels as well as other specialised services and equipment.

Combining mobile radio (conventional MPT, TETRA, iDEN, OpenSky), telephony (EI, TI, ISDN, PRI, PABX, PSTN and specialised telephony interfaces) and data (ethernet, IP, RS232/422/485) can all be integrated.

Acom can be configured to manage a variety of trunked radio protocols. These include MPT 1327, TETRA, EDACS and LTR. Other radio networks such as M/A-COMS, OpenSky, IP-based trunking networks and Motorola's iDEN protocol can also be incorporated.

Now the airport terminal controllers have access to ground radio, air-to-ground radio, air traffic control radio monitoring as well as the corporate PABX telephones.

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