Enaire upgrades ground-air communications system

New VHF stations installed

Spain’s ANSP Enaire has deployed VHF stations with a new unified processing system that centralises the provision of ground-air communications through virtualisation.

The modernisation program for ground-air communications combines two novel aspects in the air navigation system –  the centralisation of the intelligence of the ground-air communications system, which supports the datalink services, and the virtualisation of its supporting infrastructure.

Traditionally, this computation was distributed over 29 VDL (VHF datalink) stations that Enaire has deployed throughout Spain to provide the ground-air coverage required to render the digital datalink service, in accordance with the European regulation in effect since 2018.


Datalink service

The digital datalink service is emerging as a fundamental pillar in the field of ATC because it offers advantages in the efficiency and safety of operations. Datalink provides an alternative to voice communications by allowing for the instant digital exchange of relevant data between aircraft and air traffic control units, optimising controller workload and minimising potential communication errors.



By centralising the processing of ground-air traffic communications, the service will rely on the virtualised infrastructure, which will host, also virtually, all of Enaire’s centralised aeronautical communications systems: the network management system, the SWIM aeronautical messaging system, other datalink systems, meteorological information systems, and more.

Virtualisation enables the consolidation of multiple servers into a single physical unit, lowering acquisition, maintenance and energy costs.

Virtualisation provides scalability, better resource management and, most of all, greater operational flexibility, which translates into more agility to adapt to changing scenarios. This advantage is beneficial when implementing contingency solutions aimed at maintaining the continuity of critical air traffic control services in the event of any kind of incident.

The centralisation of the processing systems that support this intelligence is consistent with ENAIRE's strategy to maximise the operational, supervisory and administrative efficiency of the different elements that comprise its air navigation system.

Integration and virtualisation also lead to greater scalability, streamlining the expansion of the radio stations in a way that is more cost efficient. In addition, that fact that many of these stations are located in the facilities of Aena, the airport manager, lowers the housing cost.

These changes will benefit the Startical satellite initiative, a joint venture between Enaire and Indra by simplifying the most complex part of its development: the satellite constellation, because only the radios need to be deployed, keeping the system's intelligence on the ground.

Spain’s ANSP, Enaire provides en route control services for all flights and overflights from five control centres in Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, Gran Canaria and Palma, as well as approach services to every airport in the country.

In addition, 46 airports receive communication, navigation and surveillance services from Enaire, which also maintains their ATC systems, and 21 of them, including the country's busiest airports, rely on its aerodrome ATC services.

ENAIRE is Europe's fourth largest air traffic manager and also belongs to international alliances such as SESAR Joint Undertaking, SESAR Deployment Manager, iTEC, CANSO and ICAO.