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Old 13th Mar 2019, 9:58 am   #1
Sparks
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Default Air Traffic Control telephone systems.

Until relatively recently, control tower telephones usually consisted of a bank of push button or toggle switches for accessing direct lines and a keypad or old rotary dial for other numbers. Does anyone know which telecom companies, if any, made these items or were they generally made in-house by airport tels departments ? I have seen GPO/BT key and lamp units being used but I don't think they were that common in control towers.

Modern systems tend to be off the shelf products by the likes of Frequentis and Drake and they've largely seen off the older equipment.

The sort of thing I mean are the blue push button switches in this picture. The lever keys are for RT frequencies.
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Old 13th Mar 2019, 11:25 am   #2
Dave Moll
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Default Re: Air Traffic Control telephone systems.

I'm not sure, but I believe that the BT Pentara PABX I was originally decommissioned from ATC at Heathrow, judging by the labels on some of the buttons on the operator's 'phone. If so, that probably gives some idea of what they had at one time.
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Old 13th Mar 2019, 12:41 pm   #3
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Default Re: Air Traffic Control telephone systems.

That's a possibility Dave. There used to be a Pentara in the control tower at Blackpool airport about twenty five years ago. Perhaps the internal gubbins of Pentara and other PABXs provided the basis of what was used. Generally speaking, however, there are no obvious telephone instruments in ATC towers but rather keypads and push buttons with handsets and headsets plugged into a console.
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Old 13th Mar 2019, 12:52 pm   #4
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Default Re: Air Traffic Control telephone systems.

Maybe the Pentara was used in the administrative offices rather than on the "front line" of ATC. What I have is an unadulterated CCU and featurephones - albeit with some interesting programming.

Certainly, headsets for ATCs would make sense to keep their hands free.
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Old 13th Mar 2019, 1:21 pm   #5
nutteronthebus
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Default Re: Air Traffic Control telephone systems.

A lot of the ATC now run on Meridian /Avaya systems now I fitted one to the Tower in Manchester 3 years ago
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Old 13th Mar 2019, 1:33 pm   #6
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Default Re: Air Traffic Control telephone systems.

My guess is that OEM systems like Pentara and Meridian are installed in control towers as part of the airport's general telephone network. The ATC specific network is what is likely to use the customised equipment with the separate handsets, headsets and keypads. I may be wrong but I think I have heard the Fujitsu name mentioned in this regard. Possibly Pye TMC as well but many years ago.
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