Rockwell Collins, PowerTrunk team to install TETRA communications at JFK Airport
Rockwell Collins and PowerTrunk last week announced that they will install a TETRA system at John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport in New York City as part of an upgrade to the airport’s current iDEN-based communications system.
Since 2001, JFK Airport has been using an ARINC GLOBALink network that leverages iDEN technology, which will reach end of life within the next few years, according to Keith Ammons, vice president of market development for PowerTrunk. After Rockwell Collins purchased ARINC in 2013, Rockwell Collins has sought technological migration paths for its iDEN customers.
The JFK announcement marks the second time that Rockwell Collins has worked with PowerTrunk to install a TETRA system in a major U.S. airport. Last year, the companies announced the TETRA installation at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).
“The success of LAX basically convinced Rockwell Collins that TETRA from PowerTrunk was the right solution to propose for JFK, as well,” Ammons said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “It’s going to be very similar to what we did at LAX, replacing the existing iDEN system with a PowerTrunk TETRA system and PowerTrunk TETRA radios. It’s the same type of users and communications functions.”
TETRA is the land-mobile-radio (LMR) standard used throughout Europe for mission-critical public-safety communications. In North America, public-safety LMR systems typically utilize the P25 standard, but TETRA has gained market share in other critical-infrastructure sectors, such as in utilities and transportation.
One TETRA feature that is attractive to airports is the platform’s Dynamic Group Number Assignment (DGNA) functionality that can be used to support communications between personnel with different responsibilities—for instance, ground support, baggage handling, or cleaning—that work together on a particular flight, Ammons said.
“It’s not always the same crews that are working together with every flight,” he said. “Rather, there’s a lot of mixing and moving around going on. The Dynamic Group Number Assignment feature in TETRA is especially useful in that kind of environment, because it allows you to build groups for the temporary duration for the servicing of that flight.
“Once that flight departs, that group is then torn down, and the people are redistributed to other assignments.”
Ammons said the timing of the TETRA installation will be controlled by Rockwell Collins, but it could be done by the end of the year.
TETRA could be an option for other airports and entities that currently utilize iDEN technology; in fact, the solution has been proposed for several other locations, but those efforts have not yet been announced, Ammons said.
PowerTrunk is part of Teltronic, which recently announced that it is being purchased by Sepura. That deal is expected to be finalized soon, perhaps as early as this week, according to industry sources.