New collision warning system now in use at Zurich and Geneva

Geneva, 15 June 2010. Skyguide and Flughafen Zürich AG are adopting a new ground collision warning system for Zurich Airport. The new system, which came into operation on 31 May and whose stabilisation phase of nearly two weeks has just ended up successfully, is already in use at Geneva Airport, where it was introduced last December. Skyguide and the operators of Zurich and Geneva airports are among the first in Europe to adopt a system of this kind for their airport operations.

The new Runway Incursion Monitoring and Conflict Alert System (RIMCAS) supports air traffic controllers in their monitoring and management of the movements of aircraft and vehicles on the airport’s runway and taxiway network. RIMCAS is fed by the data it needs from various sources such as radar and sensors. The system then uses these data to constantly calculate the positions of all the aircraft and vehicles on or near the airport’s runways and taxiways. In doing so, it also identifies any possible movement conflicts as they emerge, and alerts the tower controllers to these by issuing audio and visual signals. “Our new warning system gives us an additional safety net to support our tower controllers in their work,” explains Urs Ryf, Head of Operations at skyguide.

A long development phase
Developing a ground collision warning system is a complex and extensive affair. Unlike in the air, such systems must contend with various possible sources of interference on the ground, such as surrounding buildings or the natural topography, any of which can distort the aircraft and vehicle positioning data obtained. These sources of interference can also trigger false alarms. So to ensure its reliability, the new RIMCAS facility was subjected to extensive development and exhaustive testing before it was put into operation.

Similar system already in use to protect traffic in the air
A similar collision warning system (known as Short-Term Conflict Alert or STCA) has been in operation at skyguide’s Zurich and Geneva control centres for several years now to alert controllers as early as possible to any emerging critical situations in the air. The use of such systems on the ground, however, is a new development. “In introducing the latest-generation RIMCAS, which gives us an overall view of all arrivals and departures and all movements on and immediately around our runways, skyguide and Zurich and Geneva airports are leading the way in Europe,” Urs Ryf adds.