TAV Skopje Airport wanted to upgrade from its outdated Motorola Solutions analogue trunked radio system to the latest digital technology, for increased usage and channel capacity, enhanced functionality and clearer, faster, more reliable communications. The migration from analog to digital needed to be smooth, with no loss of service.
Locally based radio communications engineering company Giza Co. Elektronika has been supporting clients throughout Macedonia for over 25 years and has a close relationship with Motorola Solutions partner Airadio Net S.L. (a division of American International Radio (AIR), Inc.) who has a strong presence in the region. Giza has been contracted on a long-term basis to maintain the infrastructure at the airport. During this time Giza established a very strong partnership with Skopje Airport, based on trust and extensive experience and knowledge of its infrastructure and requirements. Skopje Airport also knows and trusts the Motorola Solutions brand as the company has been responsive and flexible in the past; and so, despite strong interest from competitors, following a detailed review, it was happy to follow Giza’s and Airadio’s recommendation of an upgrade to a MOTOTRBO Capacity Max (DMR Tier III) single site trunked radio system for a best-in-class, long-term solution. Skopje Airport also wanted to maintain a trunked system for the security it can offer, with layers of redundancy and voice, data and control traffic within the IP network all being encrypted and all radios securely authenticated.
Aware of the immediate need for system expansion, Motorola Solutions supplied MOTOTRBO radios with a
pre-installed MPT1327 option board prior to switchover. These could be used on both the existing analog trunked system and on the new MOTOTRBO Capacity Max system; and, once the new system was ready to install, Airadio managed the system integration, programming and testing at Giza’s premises. Then, working in close collaboration, they gradually deployed the new architecture, with no loss
of service. They ran full site acceptance tests and training and, in the name of sustainability, the components of the analogue system, which are still fully operational, will be reused at the smaller TAV Ohrid Airport in south-west Macedonia. Giza is supplying the ongoing maintenance for both systems.
The new infrastructure comprises a Capacity Max System Server and four SLR 5500 repeaters with Capacity Max Advantage licenses to give functionality over and above the DMR Tier III standard and Skopje Airport has equipped its teams with around 200 MOTOTRBO DP4801 digital portable two-way radios and 50 MOTOTRBO DM4601 mobile two-way radios. Capacity Max and the MOTOTRBO radio management software give Skopje Airport a centralised overview and control of the radio traffic, devices and talk groups, of which there are currently 45 at the airport; these include duty managers, ground handling, flight operations, chief leaders, cleaners, push back teams, catering, VIP, security, emergency services, technical department, cargo, air traffic control and fuelling. Currently, 80% of communications are voice and 20% data.
The system was deployed in conjunction with the SmartPTT PLUS control room solution, for central voice dispatch, text messages, fleet administration, alarm and lone worker, email, job ticketing, event logging and communication recording. Skopje Airport is also aware of the optional features the software can offer such as GPS tracking and telephone interconnect, which it could deploy in the future.
Skopje Airport has doubled its channel capacity, whilst maintaining the same number of repeaters and frequencies. This ensures a 100% first-time successful call rate, despite a significant upsurge in system usage. Coverage has increased from 80% of the airport site to 100% coverage.
Radio users, meanwhile, who were initially concerned about the change, have since strongly praised the improved audio clarity, the reliability of the system, the ease of use of the radios, including for setting up a range of call modes,
the extended battery life and the speed of data transfer. The management team is also benefiting from Motorola Solutions Capacity Max’s added security, resilience, features and functionality, which allows them to send out work orders, record calls and access full communication logs and records. Ultimately, this has led to the great efficiency and productivity gains and the Capacity Max system will
continue to be developed and expanded, to meet Skopje Airport’s growing needs. Indeed, TAV may also consider allowing airlines to access the Skopje network in the future, whilst plans are being discussed to install Capacity Max at another airport in North Macedonia.