Transferring business-critical Air Traffic Management data reliably, securely and safely with NewPENS: skeyes first ANSP involved

NewPENS, the new pan-European network service, will form the backbone for reliable and secure cross-border data and voice communications between air traffic management (ATM) stakeholders.

Once the transition project from PENS, the former solution put in place in 2012, to NewPENS is complete, around 100 locations across 47 countries, and 41 air navigation service providers (ANSPs) in the EUROCONTROL area and neighbouring countries, will be connected. That is scheduled for the end of the year – and good progress is being made, with Naviair and Austro Control becoming the first ANSPs to migrate to NewPENS in mid-June 2019, closely followed by PANSA and skyguide, Avinor, EANS and Slovenia Control. And on 1 July, a new first for NewPENS was recorded, as skeyes became the first ANSP to share successfully ATM data with the EUROCONTROL Network Manager (NM).

NewPENS offers users an ultra-resilient network managed by BT Global Services. It builds on the success of PENS, which since 2012 has allowed EUROCONTROL and its stakeholders to exchange a wide variety of ATM information via a private IP network.

The new PENS network provides a wide variety of stakeholders – from ANSPs to ATM providers, airlines, airports, the military and meteorological services – with increased capacity, allowing them to transfer business-critical ATM data reliably, securely and safely in a cost-efficient way. Its architecture is also designed to support future ATM applications developed through SESAR, such as SWIM.

The transition from PENS to NewPENS is a major migration project that has required intensive coordination between the different stakeholders including EASA, the European Aviation Safety Agency. The project covers the design of new activities, the deployment of new infrastructure, the migration of services from the previous PENS provider to BT, and the decommissioning of the old PENS infrastructure.

skeyes is the first ANSP to share data with the EUROCONTROL Network Manager via NewPENS

Air traffic does not stop at national borders. Every day, dozens of air traffic control companies in Europe work together to manage traffic in European airspace. Fast, reliable and secure data transmission plays an important role in this regard.

This data transfer will be done soon via NewPENS.

Primeur for skeyes

However, skeyes registers a first: on 1 July, the Belgian air traffic controller was the first to actually exchange data with the network manager (NM) of EUROCONTROL via the new network. This exchange will therefore also be possible in the future with all the other partners who will gradually connect to the network. skeyes will also be able to adapt the network’s capabilities even more quickly to its own needs, without depending on EUROCONTROL MUAC as it has been the case so far.

The connection to NewPENS and the first data exchange, without any impact on the continuity of our services, can certainly be qualified as a technological feat achieved by the skeyes Network, IT & Data Communication (NID) service. The connection went hand in hand with the transition of concrete applications needed for air traffic control.

André Orban: M. Sc. Engineering
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