British Airways has had a major rethink over its airport hub communications in a huge cost-management exercise at Heathrow.
After the events of 9/11, the entire aviation industry experienced a hard-hitting profit drop as airport operations were severely affected. To avoid fines and spiralling costs, it is critical that airlines manage to facilitate smooth and reliable airport operations, enabling fast turnaround times and fewer ground delays.
Therefore it is crucial to maintain reliable airport hub communications, especially during take-off and landing over a range of up to 200 nautical miles.
Reliability is everything. The BA ground-to-air radio system is made up of multiple radio base stations distributed around Heathrow using leased lines. The challenge for the airline was to reduce and manage airport hub radio costs, while maintaining the critical reliability that cannot be compromised.
Also, BA were faced with the problem of continuity while the upgrades and switching were taking place. As the largest carrier out of Heathrow, there was certainly no question of grounding aircraft. It was necessary to ensure the new network was set up and ready to go before the switch, which could be a costly endeavour if an entire framework had to be ready.
The answer for BA was the deployment of ground-to-air radio via IP (RoIP). This also allows for expansion, which the previous system did not, already being at almost ‘full’ capacity.
Employing Twisted Pair’s solution, WAVE, has transferred the RoIP to desktop PC’s and server infrastructure, offering a streamlined alternative, seamlessly efficient and brings cost-optimal airport hub radio communications to the fore.
Lee Weatherley, voice and video solutions manager at British Airways said, “Our network convergence project was primarily focused on streamlining the management and provisioning of telephony services throughout the company. We are now exploring ways to exploit the new network to support other forms of communication—for example, we also operate paging, TV, video conferencing and CCTV over our IP network.”
BA operators are now able to communicate to Smartphones and devices, PTT networks and radios from any WAVE-enabled PC across an entirely secure network. Communications history is easily saved and revisited and communications can take place across multiple channels simultaneously, improving the system, managing operational costs and streamlining the process of airport hub radio communications.