Tourism Industry News

Sensis WAM Now Certified for Air Traffic Control in the North Sea

14/12/2010 09:41

EAST SYRACUSE, N.Y.,  (PRNewswire/ -- Sensis Corporation's Wide Area Multilateration (WAM) deployment in the North Sea off the coast of Scotland is now certified for Air Traffic Control (ATC) by the United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority. Air traffic controllers for NATS, the United Kingdom's leading air navigation services provider, are using the highly accurate WAM surveillance to enhance the safety of air traffic operations within the oil platforms' airspace by employing the same standards and procedures as a traditional radar system. This application is the industry's first fully certified WAM system to provide ATC services for flights in an off-shore oil platform environment.

Each year, more than 25,000 helicopter flights carry a half million passengers between Aberdeen Airport and the oil and gas operations in the North Sea through airspace that is inaccessible to shore-based radars. Low-level radar coverage only extends 80 miles offshore, forcing controllers to rely on pilot's positional radio updates every 10 minutes. As a result, established flight paths are often not the most efficient routes due to the lack of surveillance. Deploying traditional radar was not an effective or economical solution due to performance limitations at low flight levels and initial and lifecycle costs of installing radars on oil rigs.

To increase safety and efficiency of helicopter operations in the North Sea, NATS required an innovative, reliable solution that would provide high accuracy surveillance today while being ready for tomorrow's technologies, such as Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS-B). NATS Services chose Sensis WAM to cover 25,000 square miles of the North Sea, using multilateration sensors placed on 16 oil platforms, including a floating platform with positional changes of up to 100 meters. The system is capable of tracking flights using Mode S, Mode A/C or ADS-B, ensuring surveillance without any new avionics.

"Air traffic controllers based at Aberdeen Airport are now using the precise surveillance from Sensis WAM in the same manner as traditional radar to monitor off-shore flights in all weather conditions," said John Mayhew, General Manager NATS Aberdeen. "The result is a significant enhancement to flight safety in the area which is beyond the coverage of land-based radars."

Robert Paterson, health, safety and employment issues director with Oil & Gas UK, welcomed the launch, adding: "I am very pleased to see this system go live now as this is a considerable step forward in helicopter safety."

Sensis multilateration uses multiple low-maintenance, non-rotating sensors to triangulate aircraft location based on transponder signals, providing air traffic controllers with precise aircraft position and identification information, regardless of weather conditions. With a higher update rate and greater positional accuracy than traditional radar, Sensis multilateration provides effective surveillance for increased safety, capacity and efficiency of airspace and airports. With its advanced processing techniques, Sensis multilateration uses the minimal number of sensors for a less complex, lower lifecycle cost solution. Additionally, every sensor deployed by Sensis also supports ADS-B, providing an infrastructure that's ready for today's surveillance needs and tomorrow's avionics – an economical, long-term solution.

"Sensis pioneered the concept of using WAM for surveillance of oil platform flights in the Gulf of Mexico with the Helicopter In-flight Tracking System trial for NASA," said Ken Kaminski, vice president and general manager of Sensis Air Traffic Systems. "With the North Sea system becoming the first of its kind to be certified for air traffic control, we have further proven WAM as an effective, efficient surveillance solution for these challenging environments."

Almost 100 sites worldwide have chosen Sensis multilateration to enhance safety, efficiency, capacity and cost savings through airport surface surveillance, wide area surveillance and airport surface management.

For NATS' North Sea WAM system press release issued earlier today, please visit


Sensis Corporation provides sensors, information technology, and simulation and modeling to the world's air navigation service providers, civil aviation authorities, airports, airlines and militaries. Sensis Corporation solutions are deployed around the world. For more information regarding Sensis Corporation, visit


NATS handled 2.2 million flights in 2009, covering the UK and eastern North Atlantic and carried more than 200 million passengers safely through some of the busiest and most complex airspace in the world. NATS provides air traffic control from its centres at Swanwick, Hampshire and Prestwick, Ayrshire. NATS Services is the commercial business of NATS and provides air traffic control services at 15 UK airports including Aberdeen, Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow and provides a range of other air traffic control services, engineering, consultancy, aviation data and ATC training services to customers in the UK and overseas. In addition to the provision of ATC services to Aberdeen Airport, NATS provides specialised services to the helicopters supporting the UK oil and gas industry along the length of the UK's east coast, from East Anglia in the south to beyond the Shetland Islands in the north. For more information, visit


Oil & Gas UK is the leading representative organisation for the UK offshore oil and gas industry.  Its members are companies licensed by the Government to explore for and produce oil and gas in UK waters and those who form any part of the industry's supply chain. For more information, visit

SOURCE Sensis Corporation

CONTACT: Rob Conrad, Sensis Corporation, +1-315-634-3139 or +1-315-751-3646,

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