Air Traffic Management Magazine was recently invited for an onsite visit to Rohde & Schwarz headquarters in Munich to hear about some of their latest product developments. It’s worth saying, it’s great to be back to a state where we can have in-person visits like this after a long time of virtuality.

We looked at topics across a range of different sections of their portfolio – radios, liquid cooling, quality assurance and situational awareness.  Let’s consider what’s new and interesting for these topics.

Starting with their latest radio addition, the Series 5200 which is a fully integrated IP network element. It can connect to three networks to provide redundancy.  For example, a main and backup VCS, along with a management system. Each network element can provide security to stop the transfer of data between devices if a malicious threat or breech is detected. This is a smaller form factor with software-defined features to allow for future functionality to be easily added. It can integrate with security certification systems and has already achieved some impressive approvals – to be announced. What was a really interesting component is that all customer data is retained on a ‘SIM-like’ SD Card that can stay with the customer if any repair is required in order to keep confidential data secure.

Next, we discussed High Frequency (HF) Transmitters. There’s been a lot of discussion over the last years as to whether this technology is still required or can be replaced by Satcom. One of the driving concerns here is the difference between times of peace and times of conflict. During times of peace, Satcom is a good alternative, but unfortunately it is not as secure for use during times of conflict. The outcome is that HF-wideband solutions are still required for secure communications during times of conflict. The challenge is the high amount of power required to support this technology. Rohde & Schwarz has taken their more than 20 years of experience in support of the broadcasting infrastructure to develop a solution that can be used in support of ATC. The solution is a small form factor that fits into the equipment rack to keep the optimal temperature for the amplifier device. The result is more options for Satcom and HF to co-exist as alternatives or backups in varying locations globally.

With the Advanced Voice Quality Assurance (AVQA) probes, VoIP quality can be monitored for performance, support alarms if there is a quality level issue identified and provide reporting over time. It works with any VCS SIP call. Today this is a VCS add-on feature and not something specifically called out in tenders, although this could become something specified by ANSPs in the future. The solution can be integrated as a virtual or physical device. I found the demonstration of the reporting the most interesting part of this discussion. The ability to drill down into specific calls and segments of calls to identify problems. This is a solution where the telecommunications testing and measurement experience of the company can play a role in supporting ATC communications.

The Certium Locate discussion was the most interesting part of the visit for me. This solution is intended to alleviate call sign confusion when an upper airspace ATCO needs to identify which aircraft a call is originating from on a busy radar screen. Locate allows for the triangulation of the radio signal with use of direction finders to pinpoint the specific aircraft. I could see this being something integrated for the support of uncrewed aircraft in the future! Definitely a need here.