Maintenance skills on the radar

18 January 2023

An Air Force communication electronic technician has returned to his unit after a secondment to HENSOLDT Australia, on which he learned how to use a new air traffic control (ATC) surveillance system.

When implemented, this new system will greatly improve Air Force interoperability within the national air traffic management system, provision of air traffic services at Defence air bases, air battle management, overall flying safety and surveillance capabilities at military and joint-user airfields around Australia.

Leading Aircraftman Brettschneider of 452 Squadron graduated from HENSOLDT’s inaugural course for maintainers of fixed defence air traffic control surveillance sensors (FDATCSS) in 2022.

Across late 2022, he built on his knowledge of the Airport Surveillance Radar - Next Generation ATC surveillance system that will automatically identify individual cooperative aircraft and meet requirements for highly encrypted military identification as well as civil air traffic control modes.

“The new system is much more refined than the one it’s replacing, providing greater range and more reliable target identification that’s less likely to drop out,” Leading Aircraftman Brettschneider said.

“It is compatible both with civilian air traffic control systems and the technology used by our allies so will be a major capability improvement.”

During his six-month secondment, Leading Aircraftman Brettschneider worked as an operational maintenance technician at HENSOLDT's Queensland training facility, doing corrective and routine maintenance and quality assurance inspections on the FDATCSS system. 

“It was a great opportunity to learn new ways of working autonomously and, with help from HENSOLDT’s AIR5431 team, I’ve been able to combine my experience with earlier radar systems and the FDATCSS training with hands-on experience of this exciting new platform,” he said. 

“This has put me in the perfect position to share what I learned with Air Force maintainers at 452 Squadron in getting back into uniform.

"The secondment has also been good for my family life in that it has been a chance for me and my fiancée to reconnect with our friends and family in Toowoomba where we both grew up."

Andrew Shegog, a former Air Force aviation technician who now works with HENSOLDT, instructed Leading Aircraftman Brettschneider on his initial course. 

He said the secondment to HENSOLDT had been a good opportunity for the leading aircraftman to develop his skills on the FDATCSS system and become a proficient subject matter expert on the new capability. 

“He’ll be able to take these skills back to his unit and assist his Air Force colleagues at RAAF Base Amberley in what will be the first FDATCSS maintenance program, an important step in achieving initial operating capability,” Mr Shegogg said.

HENSOLDT supplies customers around the world, including several NATO allies, with air traffic control and identification solutions for military and civilian applications.

HENSOLDT Australia Managing Director Scott Reeman said the company was an industry leader in providing platform-independent sovereign technology solutions. 



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