Ron Mankarious, EVP, Sales, and Marketing
Modern air traffic management is replete with paradoxes leveraging a diverse array of technology yet still banking on human intelligence, behaviors, and decisions. Pioneers in this space are investing heavily in R&D on identifying the right path forward for more radical redesigns and game-changing technologies to strengthen global security and add more surveillance, communication, and control capabilities. New systems are being introduced to improve flight safety, increase capacity and reduce aircraft emissions. These systems being deployed worldwide require upgrades to the air traffic control network to support their user traffic and the existing radar, weather, flight traffic information, and voice traffic. While some of these new systems are IP-based, others still utilize older circuit-switched communications.
Supporting both IP and circuit-switched traffic in the same network while meeting the performance requirements of each traffic type and complying with a series of metrics that ICAO mandates is where the rubber meets the road.
With nearly two decades of rich experience and a highly successful track record in the air traffic management space, PolarSat provides a complete air traffic control network from the connectivity up to the overall management of the network. In addition, the company takes an integrated approach to drive continuous improvement in the ICAO Key Performance Metrics that aviation organizations can see, measure, and act on. “We focus on the private network portion of the satellite networking market, which includes Air Traffic Control as one of our main markets. Our success in the ATC market has allowed us to develop our 5th generation MF-TDMA VSAT modem, VSATPlus® 3 and StreamView® Open Network Management System,” begins Ron Mankarious, EVP, Sales and Marketing, PolarSat.
At the core, PolarSat is squarely focused on delivering an ATC solution that combines high reliability based on meeting the traffic needs of specific ATC applications and drives continuous measurable improvement to the Civil Air organization by providing ICAO recommended KPI reporting. The company has devised a system that meets the needs of today’s ATC and gives the tools to improve its operation continuously. At the outset, PolarSat’s journey in the aviation space commenced with the development of VSAT networks. VSAT networks for air traffic control were initially installed to carry the voice communications from the air traffic controller up to the pilot and connect various airports to the air traffic control centers. In line with the adoption of the latest technologies and ever-changing ICAO mandates, VSATPlus 3 has evolved as a single platform that integrates with IP-based routing and user equipment, allowing for a more reliable, flexible, and economical solution. Built on TDMA with frequency hopping (FHOP), it enables hubless, full mesh operations within a single satellite hop. The platform brings in the advantage of both time domain and frequency domain access methods and allows users to support multiple services such as data, voice, and videoconferencing in one simple, integrated IP transport platform.
The VSATPlus® product line continues PolarSat’s over 30 years of satellite modem experience and continues to empower corporations, governments, and service providers with a powerful and cost-effective solution to interconnect locations via a full mesh satellite-based backbone.
Having a very reliable network is only the start of the PolarSat solution. In addition to VSATPlus 3, PolarSat has developed a Network Management System, StreamView® Open, which provides a live dashboard for the entire VSAT system and interconnects terrestrial network devices. To provide the customer operational control of their entire network, StreamView Open displays a holistic view of the network topology, individual station configurations and status, network configuration and control functions, alarm detection and response, and network management access control—all through a single, easy-to-use GUI-enabled dashboard. This dashboard facilitates monitoring the KPIs performance screens to check throughput and uptime, select engineering screens to see the real-time status of the equipment, view alarm logs to see what issues have arisen, and review configuration screens to see recent changes. StreamView Open controls the VSAT Modem, RF, Multiplexer, and Routers through SNMP or optional serial port controls. The KPIs help Civil Aviation Agencies get real-time, and trend data for ICAO mandated reporting along with their oversight. Civil Aviation Managers can employ strategies to improve operations, and monitoring their KPIs can measure the impact of the changes.
What makes StreamView second to none is its ability to give KPIs beyond what is normally reported. At regional meetings conducted by ICAO, where each country’s aviation authority presents their KPIs, the aviation authority that uses the KPI reporting from StreamView certainly has an enormous advantage. The presenting country can show how they have made changes to improve their KPIs, which gives them a higher rating by ICAO on their performance.
The Pursuit of Continued Excellence
In a nutshell, the uniqueness of PolarSat stems from its ability to supply VSAT networks that reliably support all of the different ATC applications by understanding what each application truly needs. PolarSat has worked on air traffic controller to pilot extended range VHF voice communications, supports primary/ secondary radar, ADS-B systems, AFTN, and ATS/DS, along with various other ATC-specific applications. “We understand what the different types of traffic are. We have worked with a lot of system providers to integrate their systems into these networks and ensure that they are set up not only to carry the traffic but also carry it reliably. We are not just an equipment provider, but a partner that works to supply the equipment as well as the tools for the civil aviation to run their network and continuously improve the performance,” says Mankarious.
Currently, PolarSat integrates VSATPlus 3 and StreamView Open, and other third-party equipment to provide a complete Air Traffic Control network that forms the Aviation communications backbone for many countries worldwide. With more than 6000 terminals installed in over 40 countries, PolarSat supports ATC networks worldwide. “We provided an IP VSAT network to Sudan ATC. During the program execution the UN-mandated the extension of the Sudan ATC network to cover sites in South Sudan. We were able to provide these additional sites in southern Sudan, and it is now up and running. PolarSat supports its customers in the most challenging environments to deliver reliable ATC networks,” informs Mankarious.
In yet another impressive feat, PolarSat assisted Ghana and provided a combination VSAT Network with a terrestrial MPLS backup network collaborating with its systems partner Bay-Sat. PolarSat ensured that all of the sites are in Ghana and the island nation of San Tome. Since the terrestrial connection was not an option in San Tome, the company provided a separate VSAT link that went over a different satellite than the main network. For Ghana, the company installed a hybrid network of VSAT leading network and Terrestrial/VSAT for the backup network that seamlessly switches traffic in an outage to provide a highly reliable ATC backbone.
Scripting similar success stories for various clients across the globe, PolarSat is now a name to reckon with in the hubless full mesh technology landscape. Bootstrapped by some of its largest customers and partners, PolarSat fosters a customer-first culture and puts its customers at the center of everything it does. Over the year, the company has evolved as a “true partner” to its clients to enable them to provide satellite-based broadband communication services to their users. PolarSat solution meets EuroControl ER-137 Extended Range VHF over IP specification. “We have installed ATC networks that continue to support the addition of upgraded applications over the lifetime of the network,” adds Mankarious. Moving forward, the company will continue its efforts to mitigate concerns around network security and help clients improve the efficiency and performance of their networks in the easiest possible way.