‘Back-up’ air traffic control centre under construction

‘Back-up’ air traffic control centre under construction

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Photo: Irish Aviation Authority
Photo: Irish Aviation Authority

A new ‘contingency’ air traffic control centre is being constructed in Co Clare and is expected to be ready for testing by the end of next year.

The back-up facility is being built adjacent to the Irish Aviation Authority’s (IAA) existing North Atlantic Communications Centre in Ballygirreen near Newmarket on Fergus.

The centre will act as a back-up to the IAA’s Shannon Centre at Ballycasey near Shannon Airport where up to 90% of all transatlantic air traffic that transits Irish-controlled airspace is managed.

An IAA spokesman said: “The new IAA En route Contingency Centre will enhance the IAA’s existing operational contingency capability in the event of significant disruption to the service at the Shannon Centre.”

“Having robust resilience in our air traffic management system is essential to maintain safety and the new Contingency Centre is a cost-effective solution to enhance our existing capability,” the spokesman said.

The new facility is on schedule for completion and fit-out by the end of 2016 when a period of operational testing will take place before the new ‘IAA En Route Contingency Centre’ will be commissioned at the end of June 2017.

Photo: © Pat Flynn 2015
The new facility will be a back-up for the existing Shannon Centre at Ballycasey – Photo: © Pat Flynn 2015

The works comprise of the construction of a 1200m2 building on piled foundations, with a re-inforced concrete frame along with extensive site works. The building facade will consist of specialist glazing and cladding systems while a link corridor will be constructed between the existing and new facility. 

Meanwhile, it was confirmed earlier this year that a new Aircraft Locating and Emergency Response Tracking (Aireon ALERT) service will be located within the IAA’s complex at Ballygirreen and will be operational from 2018.

Aerion, an IAA partner company in the venture, is based in North Virginia in the US and is currently developing the world’s first space-based Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADS-B) global air traffic surveillance system.

The satellite emergency tracking solution will be provided as a public service to the aviation community, free-of-charge, and will allow rescue agencies, air traffic control providers or airlines to request the location and last flight track of any ADS-B equipped aircraft in distress.

Its hoped the new system will eliminate the issue of ‘losing’ an aircraft like Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 that disappeared without a trace in March 2014.

Aireon ALERT
Photo: Irish Aviation Authority

The service will complement ground-based air traffic surveillance systems currently in use by giving a new independent surveillance layer worldwide and by seamlessly relaying position and status information of aircraft flying over oceans, poles and remote regions to air traffic controllers on the ground.

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Chief Reporter Pat Flynn has worked as a journalist for almost 30 years. His career began during the late 1980s when, like many aspiring radio presenters of the time, he worked for local pirate radio stations in Clare and Limerick.

Pat joined Clare FM in 1990 where he worked as researcher initially and later presented several different programmes including the station’s flagship current affairs programme.

He was also the station’s News Editor and Deputy Controller of Programmes. Despite leaving in 2003 to pursue a career as a freelance journalist, he continues to work with the station to this day.

As well as being the Clare Herald’s Chief Reporter Pat is also freelance journalist and broadcaster, contributing to Ireland’s national newspapers and is a regular contributor to national broadcasters.

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