Australia Moves to Combine Civil and Military ATM

 - July 8, 2013, 12:20 PM
An en route controller monitors air traffic at the Airservices Australia Melbourne Center. (Photo: Airservices Australia)

A request for tender (RFT) issued by Airservices Australia last month for the “oneSky Australia” program presents a “once-in-a-generation opportunity” to field a joint civil and military air traffic management system by 2020, according to the government-owned air navigation services provider.

A national aviation policy white paper the Australian government issued in 2009 called for greater coordination of civilian and military ATC activities and led to the oneSky joint procurement effort. Airservices Australia serves as the program’s lead agency to acquire new en route and terminal area automation systems for managing civilian air traffic and new approach and tower automation systems for the military. The agency hasn’t released details on the program’s cost, estimates of which range in the hundreds of millions of dollars. It expects to award a contract in 2015.

Airservices Australia manages more than four million flights annually. “It is intended that the new national ATM system will remove the inherent limitations from separately managed pockets of airspace and the constraints of operating different systems with separate databases,” the agency said in a draft document describing the so-called CMats, or civil-military ATM system, in December. “It will enable Airservices and Defense to manage airspace volumes dynamically, providing improved management and prioritization of an increasingly complex traffic mix.”

The RFT became effective on June 28 and closes on October 30. Airservices Australia has scheduled several site visits this month, beginning at the Brisbane air traffic service center and Royal Australian Air Force Base Amberley in Queensland.

Before starting the official tender process, Airservices Australia issued a request for information in April 2010, and held industry briefings in December 2011 and December last year. Companies represented at the last industry briefing included BAE Systems, CSC Australia, IBM, Indra Australia, ITT Exelis, Lockheed Martin Australia, UK NATS, Nav Canada, Rohde & Schwarz Australia and Saab Security. Thales, which supplies the current Australian advanced air traffic system, also has indicated that it will compete for the oneSky procurement. In February, Lockheed Martin officially launched its “SkyLine Enterprise” ATM system proposal for the program in Canberra in advance of the Avalon 2013 airshow and exposition.