At Rohde & Schwarz headquarters in Munich, Jörg Kilpert and his team design communications systems for airports and national air traffic control (ATC) organizations. “We make sure that air traffic controllers can always communicate with pilots or other controllers at all times,” says the system designer. “That is an enormous responsibility for us, since voice is still the communications medium preferred by air traffic controllers. If a controller can no longer reach the pilot, the aircraft can no longer be safely guided and the airspace in question is cleared.” Bert Janssen, project manager in Secure Communications, adds: “Communications systems are extremely critical to safety and must meet the highest quality requirements. So it is very important for us to deliver systems with the highest degree of availability and failsafety to customers such as DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung in Germany or National Air Traffic Services in the United Kingdom – systems they can rely on in their day-to-day operations.”
In the industry, Rohde & Schwarz employees are regarded as trustworthy experts. Particularly given their breadth of perspective, since the future requirements of airlines, airports and aviation safety authorities are also one of their priorities. “We participate in the relevant standard-setting bodies as well as a variety of study and working groups, and together with our partners, we test new technologies,” explains Jörg Kilpert.
Today there are upwards of four billion airline passengers per year. To transport them all safely through the skies is an obvious challenge for air traffic controllers and airlines. In addition, air traffic is supposed to rise considerably: according to forecasts, the number of passengers in the air will rise to around 8 billion within the next 20 years.
“With constant growth in radiocommunications, technology and automation, new safety standards need to be set and new products developed,” notes Amelie Hopf, Service Delivery Expert in airborne radiocommunications at the Rohde & Schwarz plant in Teisnach. Particularly with regard to safety, the air transportation industry has the challenge of making technology ever more efficient. Meeting this challenge in the best way possible is also the job of Dumitru Bica, Chief Technological Officer at Rohde & Schwarz Topex in Bucharest, and his team. They develop, for example, voice communications systems for the aeronautical radio communications systems designed in Munich. “Communication with air traffic controllers is very important and we try to involve them as early as possible in the project to understand their needs and to realize the functionalities as they want. After we complete the system, we ensure that user training programs cover all scenarios of system use in daily activities.”
Dumitru Bica, Amelie Hopf, Jörg Kilpert and Bert Janssen are absolute experts in their fields. They are further distinguished by the fact that they are still inventors and continue to expand their knowledge. They give a face to the world of tomorrow.
At Rohde & Schwarz, people and technology work hand in hand. Fulfilling every desire of the aviation industry is the goal on which everyone focuses. One of many prime examples mentioned by Amelie Hopf is the R&S®QPS security scanner, which is being successfully deployed at many international airports. In addition, she says, the issue of unmanned aerial vehicles requires new safety measures even today and, above all, in the future. “With our R&S®ARDRONIS solution, we have taken the first step to secure flight operations against remotely controlled drones.” Her expectations are also shared by Jörg Kilpert, who adds: “The next five to ten years will certainly be exciting. First of all, air traffic will steadily increase, and then, with drones and air taxis, we’ll also have more and more aircraft in the air, which will somehow also need to be controlled and coordinated.”
Already fully underway is the transition from analog voice traffic to voice over IP, which means IP-based voice transmission. “In the network technology area, there will be security innovations that will improve the quality of the networks and avoid malfunctions,” expects Bert Janssen. “With increasing digitalization, there will be innovations in network security to prevent unauthorized incursions by third parties,” he continues. A variety of pioneering solutions indicate that Rohde & Schwarz employees will not only support but also shape this trend. “We implemented the first IP VCS in 2008, we implemented the first virtual center in 2015, and we found a solution for voice best signal selection in IP networks,” notes Dumitru Bica. “In our area, I think we are one of the most innovative companies.”
Whether in Munich, Teisnach or Bucharest, the activities of everyone involved in implementing air traffic safety solutions at Rohde & Schwarz are perfectly coordinated. When this concerns an individual communications system for flight operations, Bert Janssen takes in all of the customer’s requirements and desires and then assembles a project team. Within the team, at the bid stage Jörg Kilpert and his colleagues handle the design of the solution, present it to the customer and are responsible for implementation once a contract has been signed. At that point, Dumitru Bica’s developers join in by defining the software and hardware components, testing them intensively and then turning them over to the customer. At the same time, Amelie Hopf and her team plan and coordinate services such as stocking of spare parts, training for service employees or repair processes necessary for reliable system operation. Upon acceptance of the system by the customer, the service department assumes complete responsibility for the customer. “All things considered, each and every Rohde & Schwarz employee is responsible, at the end of the chain, for making a high-quality system available to the customer,” concludes Bert Janssen.
As Director of Systems Engineering & Technology ATC in the Air Traffic Control business unit, along with my team I handle the design of complete communications infrastructures in air traffic controllers’ workstations in the area control center or airport tower, right down to the antenna. There are many things I appreciate about Rohde & Schwarz: You can create something really new, you see the results of your work at the end and you take responsibility for it. Your colleagues are super-motivated, and everyone works toward a common goal across the different locations around the world. You can really put yourself to the test, shift things and move them forward.
My exact job title is Principal Project Manager, but ‘project manager with complete responsibility’ would also be entirely accurate. I am responsible for compliance with costs, time, quality and customer satisfaction when systems are rolled out. As the liaison to the customer, I represent the company’s philosophy, and I am responsible for living up to our principles and acting in accordance with them. In my view, Rohde & Schwarz is a very socially responsible employer, fosters its employees and thereby clearly differentiates itself from the hire-and-fire policy of other companies.
As Service Delivery Expert, I am responsibility for ensuring the services stipulated with the customer in the service level agreement. In regularly communicating and collaborating with our customers and Rohde & Schwarz stakeholders, we monitor and review system performance and services and, where necessary, take corrective measures. The aim is for us to create the best possible system experience for the customer. Rohde & Schwarz is a well-known player active in the global market, and with that background, working in a team is enjoyable for me. Especially due to the international environment, assignments are diversified and highly interesting. Even as a career newcomer, you can take on responsibility, set yourself challenges and, in so doing, quickly learn a lot.
My job title is Chief Technological Officer, and I indeed drive the technological development at Rohde & Schwarz Topex. We develop the voice switch and, together with our colleagues in Munich, we can offer a comprehensive aeronautical communications solution, from the air traffic operator's microphone to the radio station antenna. What’s special about working for Rohde & Schwarz Topex is that we feel like part of a large family and that we develop interesting things from a technical point of view, many of them in premiere in the field of ATC.
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