By leveraging new technologies and investing in continuous modernisation of its systems and infrastructure, skeyes hopes to ensure its operational continuity and provide its customers with a quality service at all times. skeyes therefore invested more than EUR 20 million in 2018. A significant portion of this was devoted to the CANAC 2 control centre (Computer Assisted National Air Traffic Control Centre) which has established an all-time record.
1. All-time record at the CANAC 2 control centre
Growth in European air traffic has been particularly noticeable at the skeyes CANAC 2 control centre. The centre is located at the crossroads of major European routes and airports. For the first time in its history, the control centre managed more than 600,000 movements. The air traffic controllers from CANAC 2 controlled a total of 612,138 flight movements safely and efficiently in 2018. This is an average of almost 1,700 aircraft per day (+3.2% compared to 2017).
CANAC 2 is the heart of air safety operations at skeyes. Unlike a control tower that manages air traffic in the immediate environs of an airport and on the runways and taxiways, the controllers in the CANAC 2 control centre manage overflying air traffic and on approach up to an altitude of 7,500 metres. The operations room can be distinguished by the four “petals” that form the work stations of the controllers.
2. Complete upgrade for CANAC 2
skeyes has carried out a complete upgrade of its air traffic management system to ensure its continued efficiency and stability in the coming years. In just one night, all of the CANAC 2 workstations were replaced and migrated to the new system without any impact on air traffic or any interruption to smooth operations. This feat, comparable to open heart surgery, was made possible thanks to the teamwork of technical and operational experts from skeyes.
3. New testing and training platform
In order to prepare for co-location of civil and military air traffic control, several major works were carried out during 2018 at skeyes. The military personnel will move into the section of the CANAC 2 centre previously jointly dedicated to testing as well as training of air traffic controllers and technical teams. These positions have therefore been transferred to a completely renovated room where a portion of the positions are now solely dedicated to testing while a larger number of training positions have been created, considerably increasing the training capacity.
4. CUTTING-EDGE satellite navigation
Almost 70% of runways in Belgium are equipped with satellite navigation thanks to skeyes. Contrary to standard navigation, which relies on ground-based beacons and instrument landing systems to guide aircraft, air navigation of the future will use satellite signals, among other things. PBN (Performance Based Navigation) guidance occurs in three dimensions. It is accurate and improves accessibility to airports in the event of the unavailability of standard equipment.
Approach procedures have been developed for all Belgian airports. skeyes is one of the best students in the European class: according to the latest figures from EUROCONTROL, these types of PBN procedures have been developed for only 36% of runways in Europe.
5. Modernisation of the air navigation beacon network
skeyes has launched an extensive modernisation programme for its network of air navigation beacons in Belgium. The company has a total of 14 DVOR and DME beacons distributed throughout the territory. Standard navigation beacons provide pilots with the option of flying by following published procedures and moving about safely in the airspace.
In 2018, the BUB beacon located close to Brussels Airport was one of several that was replaced. During the period of renovation, satellite navigation tools (PBN) were deployed to ensure continuity of operations without impacting air traffic capacity.
6. Leader in the area of new radio frequencies
Radio frequencies are a scarce resource – this is true both for the frequencies used by your car radio and for communication in the sky between pilots and air traffic controllers. To satisfy increasing demand, the European Commission decided to reduce the channel spacing between frequencies reserved for aviation from 25 kHz to 8.33 kHz. Two additional frequencies have therefore been created per 25 kHz.
skeyes pulled out all the stops to replace its entire fleet of radios in 2018 (almost 400 sets on 18 sites). skeyes is fully compliant with the new European Regulation and is one of the leaders in this area in Europe.
7. More flexibility to manage air traffic flows at Liège Airport
As a result of optimising the horizontal separation between aircraft, skeyes offers more flexibility for managing air traffic around Liège Airport, while still guaranteeing safety. The minimum separation distance has been reduced from 5 nautical miles (9.3 km) on the horizontal plane to 3 nautical miles (5.6 km). Air traffic flows from and to the airport can therefore be organised more fluidly and efficiently. All air traffic controllers have been trained in this new separation standard.
This measure has been operational for several years already at Brussels Airport. Similar projects are underway for Ostend and Charleroi airports and will be implemented during 2019.