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St Athan Air Traffic Control change paves way for integration with Cardiff airport

Published: 23 May 2019

Serco, the Air Traffic Control (ATC) specialists, has successfully managed the transition of the Aerodrome Operations at MOD St Athan, near Cardiff, from Military Aviation Authority (MAA) Regulations to Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Regulations. This is a key part of the St Athan Aerospace Business Park project and paves the way for the future integration of St Athan with Cardiff International Airport.

Acting as the Designated Authority for the Welsh Government, and as the Air Navigation Service Provider at MOD St Athan, Serco successfully managed the ATC turnkey project for the unit to transition to civilian operations.  Within the 18 months programme a significant part of the process was the replacement of the majority of the ATC systems and Visual Control Room (VCR) furniture within the Tower.  As a result CAA approval was achieved, allowing civilian operations to commence.

Commenting on the successful programme, Giles Frances, Serco’s Director, Aviation & Fire Services, said: “This was a major undertaking.  The level of change was similar to establishing an entirely new ATC facility.  The ATC team at MOD St Athan acted as a procurement agent for the Welsh Government and Specialist Integrators; they provided project management and safety and regulatory compliance oversight for the build, commissioning, training, factory acceptance tests, system acceptance tests and safety cases as well as interaction with the Welsh Government, the Civil Aviation Authority and Copperchase, the main sub-contractor”. 

As well as working closely with the Welsh Government and the CAA around 20 Original Equipment Manufacturers have been involved in the supply of hardware and software including:

  • Ground to air VHF and UHF radios
  • Ground to ground UHF radios
  • Voice comms control system
  • Recorders
  • Transmitter and receiver masts
  • Aeronautical ground lighting
  • Flight data management system
  • Crash alarms
  • Emergency handsets
  • ‘Thinking Space’ desks
  • Meteorological system
  • Uninterruptible power supply

In addition to the ATC Tower transition, the unit has also had to ensure the Fire Service transfers from MAA to CAA operations. Furthermore, the team have had to manage the TUPE transfer of the Firefighters, Mechanical Transport (MT) Section and Refuellers to Cardiff International Airport and Swissport.

The St Athan Business Park, incorporating the new Civil Aerodrome, is a flagship development project for the Welsh Government designed to attract high quality employment to the area.