London Luton Airport System
Press Release courtesy of TOA Corporation (UK) Ltd
The pressure currently placed on London airports by increased passenger acitivity has led to vigorous development programmes being initiated.
At London Luton Airport — where seven million travellers pass through annually — the building of a second terminal has now been followed by the creation of new walkways, with arrival, departure and pre-board lounges on the apron of the original terminal necessitating a new communications infrastructure, to be implemented within London’s fourth most important airport.
Thanks to the new installation, for the first time in the airport’s 64 year history, passengers will be able to board and disembark their flights via these elevated, covered walkways with the benefit of clear flight communications.
The new paging stations and public address network — based around TOA’s digital SX-1000 modular matrix controller — were recently commissioned by system integrators, ADC.
Steve Robinson, Luton Airport’s electrical and maintenance supervisor for the terminal buildings, reports that the contract was put out around a year ago. “Using consultants we started the tendering process just before the walkway contract started,” he explained.
The main consultants on the project were Howse, Cole, Dyer while Farrans Construction Limited were the civil engineering contractors. ADC were sub-contracted to electricians, David Fear Electrical.
The technology specialists were originally introduced to the project by Tannoy, 70 of whose 100V line loudspeakers they have been installed at the Airport
“After we had been recommended we were given a spec by Steve Robinson,” says their project manager, Lorn Money. “As the airport couldn’t expand its existing paging system we did some research — and all directions pointed to TOA. Once we’d seen the SX-1000 matrix system the decision was done.”
The expandable SX-1000 is configured as a 30-input x 16 zone matrix — which provides coverage for a total of 28 paging stations, both in the original terminal and extension. A TOA EV-350 voice message box is used for broadcasting pre-recorded emergency announcements — as well as the two-stage alarm and evacuation procedure.
The PC-compatible SX-1000, which has a maximum expansion capacity of 64 inputs/128 outputs, performs self-diagnostic functions, while the operating logs recorded in the matrix unit can be uploaded to a PC for analysis.
Lorn Money aims to make full use of these capabilities. “We are planning to remote the control software so we can dial in from the office. This will mean that any change to zoning requirements can be done from here, via the SX-1000 software, using PC Anywhere.
“I couldn’t rave about the SX-1000 any further … it’s a critical area of the whole system and thoroughly reliable.”
TOA’s project manager, Ian Bridgewater confirms: “This is exactly the application the SX-1000 was designed for, since the first job it ever went into was Kansai Airport in Osaka.”
The 43U rack is housed in the IT room, where all paging points and tie-lines are terminated in the electrical box. All the mic, preamp and switching circuitry is expandable, and fireman’s paging points will be added outside the IT door at a later stage.
ADC had to provide a complex interface with the system servicing the original terminal, while installing four new TOA VP-1120B and eight VP-1060B transformer amps, with a master frame and slave frame to power the two main covered walkways and 28 gates serving the arrival and departure lounges and six new pre-boarding lounges. Said Lorn, “We like these amps as you can get two modules into a 3U space.”
He explained that taking over the old system and interfacing with the pre-existing amps represented one of the hardest challenges of the contract.
“It was fine connecting up to a known system but not a old 20-year-old set-up. We had to rewire all the inputs to make them properly balanced.
“Furthermore, having a working airport to commission, we had to seek permission to have ‘down’ areas as a test bed for 20 minutes a day so we could text the matrix.”
Another consideration by ADC was to use off-the-shelf equipment where possible to give the airport security; and where they have had to custom make paging boxes and gate mics, all the information for this is available.
These paging mics are used by the handling agents, observing local and global paging protocols, although any source can be routed to any zone.
The contract is a welcome new dimension to ADC’s portfolio since they have carried out major installations for the MoD as well as nightclubs, theme restaurants and Disney shops, along with broadcast studios and editing suites.
Summarised Lorn, “The beauty of this system is its flexibility, allowing the control to be put back in the hands of the airport. There is no master paging console — the airport want to keep people off the mics as far as possible.”
Managing director of London Luton Airport, Paul Kehoe, stated, “With London Luton Airport’s rapidly increasing portfolio of both scheduled and charter services, the new Walkway Development is the vital next step in meeting the growing needs of both our customers and the Airlines.”
And if the predicted 30 million passengers anticipated in the next seven years should give rise to a further a new terminal building ADC know they can expand the infrastructure with sub frames and additional cards, safe in the knowledge that the software is already in place.