Harris Corporation, an international communications and information technology company, has reportedly delivered the first operational Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) radio control capability into the National Airspace System (NAS). VoIP is an essential enabler of the agency’s evolution toward NextGen, a wide-ranging transformation of the entire U.S. air transport system.
The Harris Liberty Radio Control Equipment (RCE) is operational at the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA’s) Air Route Traffic Control Center in Houston, which provides air/ground radio communications for the Gulf of Mexico, including remote oil platforms.
Liberty RCE can reportedly emulate virtually any radio link and offers radio control over a variety of transmission mediums, making it ideal for communications to isolated areas where digital services compatible with satellite communications are sparse, and reliance on legacy links and older analog technology is often the norm.
Liberty RCE was selected as an interim solution after the FAA encountered technical issues operating legacy RCE while deploying a remote air/ground communications facility on the oil platform Independence Hub in the Gulf of Mexico.
“The FAA selected the Liberty RCE for this mission because it addressed an immediate need for critical ATC communications in a remote and challenging environment,” said John O’Sullivan, vice president, Mission Critical Networks, Harris Government Communications Systems. “Liberty RCE’s flexibility enabled us to solve a technical issue that was encumbering our customer and reflects our continued commitment to providing the FAA with innovative solutions for their unique challenges.”
Liberty RCE is a commercial off-the-shelf gateway product that provides remote radio control over a variety of transmission mediums, including analog, T-1/E-1 and Ethernet/IP. It was designed to multiplex voice and data signals transmitted between ATC facilities and local or remote radios over standard telecommunications links. Liberty RCE can reportedly be used with any voice communication and control system, and with all ATM radios. This gateway provides interfaces for digital voice, legacy analog voice, SatCom, datalink, ADS-B, TIS-B, FIS-B, and other data services.
Harris has a long history of developing and integrating system solutions for the FAA in support of the NAS. The company is the prime contractor for the FTI programme, which provides critical voice, data and video communications for NAS operations and mission support functions. FTI securely connects more than 4,300 national and international FAA and DoD facilities, manages over 26,000 services, and supports more than 50,000 users. Other FAA programmes developed by Harris include:
• The Weather and Radar Processor, which provides weather information to air traffic controllers in the en-route air traffic control environment; • OASIS, which provides integrated weather briefing and flight planning capabilities for preflight weather briefings and in-flight updates; • Voice Switching and Control System, which provides the critical air-to-ground communications links between en-route aircraft and air traffic controllers throughout the continental U.S.; and • Alaskan Satellite Telecommunications Infrastructure program, which provides voice and data communications between the Alaskan Air Route Traffic Control Center in Anchorage and 64 regional FAA sites.