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Flying the future - Air traffic control upgrades bring big benefits for transatlantic travelers

How IAA is leveraging IP/MPLS for one of the worlds busiest air traffic regions

Global air traffic volumes are expected to double in the next 10 years. That’s spurring the development of sophisticated new air traffic control (ATC) management solutions and a concerted push by standards bodies for a “system of systems” approach to global aviation. Air navigation service providers (ANSPs) around the world recognize the time to act is now and are starting to migrate their traditional communications networks to IP/MPLS.

The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) — which controls one of the world’s busiest air traffic regions, the North Atlantic — is a frontrunner in this technological revolution. Nokia has supported the IAA’s efforts over the past year by deploying a specialized aviation IP/MPLS network at its West Ireland disaster recovery center.

Fully operational and future-ready

The IAA’s IP/MPLS network was deployed in early 2019 and has since been used in a number of successful live trials, delivering critical voice and radar services to controllers across multiple North Atlantic airspace sectors. Going forward, the new network will ensure the smooth operation of tomorrow’s increasingly sophisticated and complex ATC applications, providing mission-critical resiliency through its design and components.

This deployment is a key piece of the IAA’s roadmap for migrating all of its critical services to a next-generation network. The Nokia solution for aviation provides both next-generation capabilities and support for legacy (i.e., non-IP) applications, including end-to-end communications between radar stations. Nokia’s next phase of work with the IAA will focus on further network design and deployment.

Assured and secure

Nokia has a long history of building mission-critical networks for critical infrastructure, including air traffic control. More than 10% of the world’s ANSPs rely on Nokia networking technologies. Beyond supporting advanced ATC applications, IP/MPLS has tremendous potential to increase protection from cyberattacks. This may seem counter-intuitive at first, because the greater interconnectedness of IP/MPLS networks may increase the attack surface for malicious actors — but in fact IP/MPLS has innate abilities to address and neutralize threats.

Nokia has used those IP/MPLS capabilities to provide the highest level of protection for air traffic management communications, aligning with the recommendations of both the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the Civil Air Navigation Services Organization (CANSO).

A trusted partner for aviation

With Nokia, ANSPs can evolve their network security operations from manual and reactive to automated and predictive. Our air traffic control network solutions provide end-to-end security with a defense-in-depth approach built on multiple layers of controls that include identity access management, audit compliance management and a suite of solutions for security orchestration, analytics and response.

As the aviation sector evolves, we will continue to work closely with airlines, airports authorities and ANSPs to install and maintain networking infrastructure and applications and enable efficient, secure and safe operations.


For more information on Nokia solutions for Aviation check this out.

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Mervyn Harris

About Mervyn Harris

Mervyn leads the Global Air Traffic Management Business Development for Nokia. With over 25 years of experience in the air traffic management market (including UK National Air Traffic Services and SITA),  Mervyn has established himself as a world authority on the emerging concepts and services set to transform global air traffic management within the Communication, Navigational and Surveillance (CNS) environment. He was also a key contributor to the development of the Pan European Networks Services (PENS) in Europe and has played a vital role in similar projects globally.

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