Effective communication is critical in air traffic control to provide safe flight operations. The usual way of achieving this is through a Voice Communications & Control System (VCCS). The VCCS provides an interface between the air traffic control team and incoming aircraft, enabling seamless two-way communication. But what happens when an airport’s main VCCS fails or develops a fault?

Emergency Voice Communication Systems (EVCS)

Fortunately, critical VCCS failures are relatively rare, but when they do happen, an Emergency Voice Communications System (EVCS) is implemented. The EVCS provides air traffic controllers with a secure and resilient ‘last resort’ means of communicating with pilots and emergency response teams during critical situations, including security incidents, natural disasters, fires, and equipment failures.

What Does An EVCS System Do?

On one level, the EVCS system does everything that the primary VCCS is designed to do, including interface with ground-to-air radio and telephone systems, process digital signals to enhance voice clarity and reduce background noise. It also allows controllers to select and control different communication channels, switching between frequencies or telephone lines. The EVCS also has to integrate with other ATC systems, including your radar displays and flight data processing systems.

However, as a backup communication system, an EVCS must have extremely high levels of redundancy and reliability to withstand various disaster scenarios, including power cuts, critical system malfunctions, and infrastructure damage (e.g. the ATC tower itself is destroyed or damaged). The EVCS must be the last system running when everything else has failed, capable of communicating to aircraft that the airport is closing and that any planes that are not on final approach should reroute elsewhere.

An EVCS must also be designed with direct and secure links between critical points in the airport infrastructure, including the control tower, emergency services, and other essential operational areas, in order to send out calls at a high priority which can suppress lower priority calls.

Some systems can also be integrated with airport alert and alarm systems to facilitate an immediate (and often automated) response coordination and dissemination of information among stakeholders during emergency situations.

It should be noted that an EVCS applies only to an airport’s communication system if the main VCCS fails – and not in the event of an emergency or incident in an individual aircraft.

What Next?

An emergency system makes it easier for airports to maintain coordination between air-traffic control and emergency services during an incident, helping contain and manage a disaster to prevent loss of life.

To find out more about EVCS systems and how they can benefit your ATC safety procedures, please contact Copperchase today by clicking here.

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