• The S$30 million lab will play a key role in developing advanced ATM capabilities

September 25, 2019– The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) and Thales have announced the establishment of a S$30 million Joint Aviation Innovation Research (AIR) Lab in Singapore to drive innovation in new air traffic management (ATM) technologies. The agreement to establish the AIR Lab was signed between Mr Kevin Shum, Director-General, CAAS, and Mr Jean Ferré, Vice-President Air Traffic Management, Thales on the sidelines of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Innovation Fair in Montreal.

The AIR Lab will focus on the development of an Open ATM System architecture minimum viable product as its immediate priority. This project will be a key enabler for CAAS’s next-generation ATM system. Through the AIR Lab, Thales will be increasing its level of investments into ATM-related research in Singapore by bringing in domain experts and hiring software engineers, system engineers and integrators. Supported by the Aviation Transformation Programme (ATP)[1], which seeks to develop innovative ATM solutions for Singapore, the AIR Lab will also provide a platform for multiple stakeholders, including Singapore enterprises with complementary capabilities, to collaborate on these new technologies and develop corresponding prototypes.

The AIR Lab builds on the deep partnership and collaboration between CAAS and Thales.  In February 2018, the two organisations signed a Memorandum of Understanding to cooperate on developing new Concepts of Operations for ATM as well as the next generation of digital ATM technologies. In March this year, a follow-up agreement was signed at the World ATM Congress in Madrid to conduct research and development for an Open ATM System architecture .

Mr Kevin Shum, Director-General, CAAS, said, “CAAS is constantly looking ahead and ensuring that we are future-ready. The solutions developed by the Lab will enable CAAS to manage the increasingly complex ATM operations in one of the busiest and most complex airspaces in the world. By bringing together key stakeholders in the ATM ecosystem and providing access through an open platform, the AIR Lab will also play a key role in deepening Singapore’s expertise in ATM.”

“The AIR Lab is the first of its kind for Thales in Asia and will allow us to pioneer new technologies with CAAS in the digital aviation field. It serves as a great tool for Thales to tap on and develop expertise to Singapore’s ATM and ANSP ecosystem, while working in close partnership with CAAS and other complementary partners to build capabilities for the future,” said Mr Jean Ferré, Vice-President, Air Traffic Management, Thales.

The AIR Lab is expected to be launched in early 2020 and established for an initial period of three years. The AIR Lab will be co-located with the Thales Digital Factory in Singapore to draw synergies between the two facilities.


1. The Aviation Transformation Programme builds up Singapore’s R&D capabilities to address challenges arising from increased air traffic and constraints in manpower, land and airspace.  Supported by the National Research Foundation Singapore, the programme facilitates collaboration between the industry and the research community in developing innovative solutions to solve challenges faced by the aviation sector.

2.An Open ATM System architecture is modular, scalable and supplier agnostic. It therefore enables greater flexibility and new ATM innovations to be integrated at an accelerated pace. An Open ATM System architecture will also benefit the ATM community and Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) who can tap on the R&D knowledge and architecture to level up their ATM systems and innovate improvements.

September 27, 2019–SITAONAIR and the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to explore the potential for a world-first space-based Very High Frequency (VHF) solution.

The space-based VHF voice service, which would be the first of its kind, would use VHF radio relay installed onboard satellites. Its key benefit would be to enable Direct Controller-Pilot Communication (DCPC) in areas of airspace which are geographically remote, such as oceanic regions, or where it is not cost-efficient to provide and maintain terrestrial VHF and HF services. When used in combination with air traffic surveillance systems, the service has the potential to drastically improve airspace capacity and efficiency, complementing existing automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B), satellite communications (SATCOM) Voice and automatic dependent surveillance-contract/controller-pilot data link communications (ADS-C/CPDLC) technologies.

CAAS is already embarking on technical studies into space-based VHF in the Singapore Flight Information Region (FIR), focusing on medium earth orbit (MEO) and low earth orbit (LEO) satellites used as relay stations for voice and, if feasible, data communications.

SITAONAIR will support the initiative by contributing to various studies around the enablement of dual mission voice and data capability in areas that may benefit from ACARS Datalink services.

Initially, SITAONAIR will engage with the industry to focus on the implementation of High Altitude Pseudo Satellite- (HAPS)-based platforms which would hover around 60,000ft above the earth’s surface, in the stratosphere. This interim solution would deliver value in high-traffic routes and regions, paving the way for space-based VHF once available satellites are launched.

“The work already done in the region and this new collaboration with SITAONAIR are key steps in our efforts to invest in the future of improved air traffic management, through cutting-edge technologies. We’re excited to launch this within the Singapore FIR and provide enhanced operational efficiency for other air navigation service providers in the years to come. The addition of SITAONAIR’s industry and air traffic communications expertise enables CAAS to strengthen its research within the industry and continue to innovate,” comments Mr. Kevin Shum, CAAS Director General.

David Lavorel, Chief Executive Officer, SITAONAIR, adds: “Our focus, first and foremost, is the safety and efficiency of air traffic in increasingly busy skies. The research conducted in Singapore propels the industry into the next stage of air traffic management innovation and communications, providing the potential for key solutions which will keep the skies smarter, even in areas where ground-based VHF is not possible.”

To find out more about SITAONAIR’s ATC services, visit www.sitaonair.aero, speak to your local SITAONAIR contact, or submit an enquiry form.