5th Generation NAVAIDS – Going the distance
Navigation Aids (NAVAIDS) are built to last decades, which is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because over time well-established maintenance operations and in-depth knowledge of these systems contribute to improving Life Cycle Costs (LCC) and efficiency. A curse because, concurrently, the emergence of new technologies such as 5G and regulatory frameworks progressively reshape market needs, redefining LCC, bringing emphasis to Operational Cost Effectiveness (OCE), and requiring legacy systems to adapt.
In this context, Thales’ introduction of 5th generation products using new technologies and functionalities will represent an important paradigm shift for the Air Traffic Management (ATM) industry. That is why Thales leverages its strong experience implementing new technologies across a wide variety of fields to support ATM customers, civil and military, in their transition, working closely with them to understand and harness their full potential. Thales will also be a trusted partner to support the modernization of air navigation infrastructure.
First things first: efficiency and total cost of ownerships
One of the key characteristics new technologies present, regardless of the field, is power consumption and miniaturisation. What used to require multiple storage units or containers can now fit into smaller units - for instance, Single Replacement Units (SRU). This new approach is not only advantageous in terms of system footprint; fewer, more compact units also require less parts and spare parts production, also reducing carbon footprint.
Building on technologies that have been developed for other markets – notably telecommunications – Thales has developed 5th generation NAVAIDS. Featuring smaller circuit boards, the new generation systems are more compact, future-proof and budget-adaptable. Similarly, the implementation of digital technologies in antennas significantly improves signal in space quality and efficiency without altering antenna size. These changes will contribute to reducing electrical consumption and components by approximately 50% over the lifetime of the system, resulting in important savings on Total Cost of Ownerships (TCO).
Going the distance: maintenance
Harnessing years of experimenting successfully with digitalisation and connectivity, new technologies are now capable of delivering unprecedented benefits to their users. The ability to harvest large volumes of data and process them at a distance has unlocked the potential of remote maintenance across multiple markets.
The ATM market is no exception. Thales is developing 5th generation NAVAIDS that leverage the benefits of digitalisation and connectivity to facilitate remote maintenance. “The only time an operator will be required to travel for system maintenance will be for replacement of spare parts,” says Andrea Tassara, Technical Director Navigation And Surveillance (NAS) at Thales. Being able to perform routine maintenance remotely will increase both system availability and efficiency: operators will know what they need to replace before getting to the system, therefore performing key repairs more quickly and reducing systems’ down time. Investments in high-performance, compact, and low-maintenance navigation aid systems will support the modernization of infrastructure.
Securing the future
As the time to replace legacy NAVAIDS draws nearer, it is evident that new technologies hold significant potential for the future of these systems. Beyond important efficiency gains, beneficial for both ATM industry stakeholders and the environment, new technologies highlight the value of facilitating maintenance to improve OCE.
For Thales, this last point is central to securing a sustainable future for the ATM industry. Working closely with its customers, it aims to harness the paradigm shift brought on by 5G technologies to develop NAVAIDS that not only last for decades, but do so in a cost-effective manner.
With over 80 years of leadership in the navigation aids market, Thales’ comprehensive portfolio can deliver innovative capabilities at unmatched value.