R&S Uses a Helicopter to Install a Direction Finding Antenna in an Inaccessible LocationRFecho
Rohde & Schwarz (R&S), in a spectacular effort, completed the installation of its latest direction finding (DF) antenna, by using a helicopter in an almost inaccessible location in Germany. The DF antenna, part of the R&S CERTIUM LOCATE family, was installed for DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH, the German air navigation service provider.
These DF antennas are part of the new ATC (Air Traffic Control) direction finding solution (R&S DF-ATC), a system designed especially for ATC controllers that obtains accurate DF results for up to 32 channels in parallel. The system belongs to the larger CERTIUM LOCATE family.
Having completed five of the six contracted installations, the last proved to be the most challenging. The site was located within a forest and accessible only via a narrow track, making it unpassable for a truck-mounted crane. In order to avoid cutting down part of the forest, a more environmentally friendly aerial installation was chosen.
In 2018, DFS awarded Rohde & Schwarz a contract for R&S DF-ATC systems at the DFS center in Langen and five German airports (Nuremberg, Hamburg, Münster/Osnabrück, Stuttgart and Hanover). The systems increase the air traffic controller’s situational awareness by clearly referencing calling aircraft on a radar screen. The ATC DFs are housed in weatherproof units and usually mounted underneath a DF antenna that is three meters in diameter and weighs 120 kilograms. They are typically installed at a height of five meters, but to be taller than the surrounding trees, this was increased to 35 meters.
To reduce risks, the company avoided the winter season and performed the installation in late March. A special permit was also needed to be obtained from local authorities. Despite adverse winds and the current security situation, the previous DF antenna could be removed from the helicopter and then the new DF antenna was held in position while a technician secured it on top of the mast.