Singapore and Thales to establish ATM lab
The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) and Thales have established a S$30 million Joint Aviation Innovation Research (AIR) Lab in Singapore to focus on new air traffic management (ATM) technologies. The agreement to establish the AIR Lab was signed between Kevin Shum, director-general, CAAS, and Jean Ferré, vice-president, air traffic management, Thales, during the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Innovation Fair in Montreal.
The AIR Lab is expected to be launched in early 2020 and established for an initial period of three years. The AIR Lab will be co-located with the Thales Digital Factory in Singapore.
The AIR Lab is to focus on, as its immediate priority, the development of what the two organizations describe as an Open ATM System architecture minimum viable product. This project will be a key enabler for CAAS’s next-generation ATM system. An Open ATM System architecture is modular, scalable and supplier agnostic. It therefore enables greater flexibility and new ATM innovations to be integrated at an accelerated pace. An Open ATM System architecture will also benefit the ATM community and Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) who can tap on the R&D knowledge and architecture to level up their ATM systems and innovate improvements.
“The solutions developed by the Lab will enable CAAS to manage the increasingly complex ATM operations in one of the busiest and most complex airspaces in the world,” said Shum. “By bringing together key stakeholders in the ATM ecosystem and providing access through an open platform, the AIR Lab will also play a key role in deepening Singapore’s expertise in ATM.”
Through the AIR Lab, Thales will be increasing its level of investments into ATM-related research in Singapore by bringing in domain experts and hiring software engineers, system engineers and integrators. Supported by the Aviation Transformation Programme (ATP), which seeks to develop innovative ATM solutions for Singapore, the AIR Lab will also provide a platform for multiple stakeholders, including Singapore enterprises with complementary capabilities, to collaborate on these new technologies and develop corresponding prototypes.
In February 2018, CAAS and Thales signed a Memorandum of Understanding to cooperate on developing new Concepts of Operations for ATM, as well as the next generation of digital ATM technologies. In March of this year, a follow-up agreement was signed at the World ATM Congress in Madrid to conduct research and development for an Open ATM System architecture.
“The AIR Lab is the first of its kind for Thales in Asia and will allow us to pioneer new technologies with CAAS in the digital aviation field,” said Ferré. “It serves as a great tool for Thales to tap on and develop expertise to Singapore’s ATM and ANSP ecosystem, while working in close partnership with CAAS and other complementary partners to build capabilities for the future.”
CAAS explains the Aviation Transformation Programme builds up Singapore’s R&D capabilities to address challenges arising from increased air traffic and constraints in manpower, land and airspace. Supported by the National Research Foundation Singapore, the program facilitates collaboration between the industry and the research community in developing innovative solutions to solve challenges faced by the aviation sector.