London Oxford Airport, UK announced, 16 May, 2011 at EBACE in Geneva, its decision to install the latest generation radar system, a precursor to the next major phase of redevelopment at the airport. The system will be supplied by Thales with project management by NATS. Combined with further communications system upgrades, this represents an investment by the expanding UK airport of £4.5 million and the intention is to have the radar operational well ahead of the Olympics in summer 2011.
The primary and secondary (Mode-S, MSSR) surveillance radar system will enable more efficient transits through local airspace as well as increase the throughput of IFR flight activity. The state-of-the-art Thales solid state STAR 2000 primary radar will feed data into the Eurocat-C radar display system. One feature of the system is the option to enhance visibility where future large wind turbines may be an issue, should their numbers increase around the SE UK region. Such a feature is one that legacy systems are not readily able to deal with today.
With a steady increase in both business aviation traffic and aspirations to entice further commercial airline activity, the go-ahead for the new radar system is one of the most significant steps forward in the airport’s history. It represents the single most important infrastructure enhancement to date following the steady demise of the historically dominant pilot training traffic, which for 70 years represented the majority of its traffic.
Owned by a subsidiary of the Reuben Brothers property portfolio, investment for continued growth at the airport and a change of focus on the corporate and commercial sectors of aviation will continue with the installation of radar giving far greater control and situational awareness to both the airport and its users.
Commenting on the new project, Managing Director, Chris Orphanou stated: ‘With our intent to further build upon the significant growth in business aviation seen so far, this is another important tool in our inventory which facilitates a faster throughput of movements and gives us even more advantages over a number of peer airports in the south East.’
Mike Sparrow, Oxford’s Airport Manager added: ‘This major investment demonstrates our owner’s commitment to the future of London Oxford Airport by selecting market-leading technology in this field. It also follows a recent commitment to the latest generation Iturri fire tenders.’
Oxford Airport has increased its hangarage by over 80% over the last five years. It has recently expanded its apron space for heavy jets by 4.4 acres (nearly three football pitches-worth), and in 2007 it rebuilt and widened the runway (now Code 3C compliant). In 2008 it established oxfordjet, the airport’s award-winning executive business aviation terminal. With the runway widening came the installation of an Instrument Landing System which, combined with the availability of the new radar service, will now give the airport full accessibility under all seasonal conditions and safeguard for any UK airspace changes in the future.
It is anticipated that the new system will be fully operational in good time ahead of the 2012 Olympic Games, at which point a considerable increase in demand for capacity is anticipated. Thereafter, the airport will be fully equipped for whatever the future may hold as the owners continue to invest in making the airport one of the most progressive in the London region.