Airways New Zealand’s software development centre in Christchurch has won a major role in a contract to supply seven air traffic control automation systems to China.
Airways, which controls New Zealand’s air traffic, will customise the SkyLine systems on behalf of air traffic control systems vendor Lockheed Martin to meet the specifications ordered by China.
The work comes about through a partnership agreement signed between Airways and Lockheed Martin in 2000. Airways New Zealand bought SkyLine to replace existing New Zealand air traffic control equipment, which is 11 years old. Under the agreement Airways also set up the Christchurch technology centre in June 2001 to develop software and work on Lockheed’s air traffic management products worldwide.
The new technology has been customised and tested by Airways technical staff in Christchurch, who will also install it throughout China. Airways will also conduct the initial training of the Chinese personnel responsible for training their staff to operate SkyLine. Both the New Zealand and Chinese systems are due to become operational from the middle of next year. The customisations of the New Zealand implementation have just been tested and the system is the next to be checked for stability and performance.
Last year Airways joined Lockheed Martin as prime partner in a major US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) air traffic control contract. This involved replacing air traffic control systems at three FAA centres, at Anchorage, Oakland and New York, which handle oceanic traffic in international airspace over the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Airways is also involved in training FAA controllers and technical staff.
Ross Withers, Airways’ air traffic services development manager, says Airways New Zealand has strengthened its software engineering capabilities in Christchurch with the hiring of additional staff to support future sales of the SkyLine system.