What is a direction finder

Radio direction finders ensure safety

Radio direction finders support air traffic control at airports and in checkpoints. They record the direction to a calling aircraft and display it on the radar image. When using multiple direction finders, cross bearings can even be used to determine the position of aircraft. The aircraft that is currently calling is then shown with a marker on the radar screen. This enables the calling aircraft to be identified quickly and easily. This avoids confusion and misunderstandings. At small airfields without radar, direction finders are often the only source of directional information. Here the bearings are not displayed on the radar screen, but on a panel supplied.

Evolution of direction finder technology

The first radio direction finders were installed at airports in the 1950s. Rohde & Schwarz was there from the start and is one of the world's leading manufacturers. With the latest R&S DF-ATC-S model, the company has now brought a whole new generation onto the market. The new family of radio direction finders offers the right configurations and options for every airfield and area of ‚Äč‚Äčapplication, from 2 to 32-channel systems. This also includes a mast with extensive accessories. This simplifies professional installation. Open interfaces provide the bearing data in real time and optionally also allow the system to be controlled remotely.

Everything in one box

The compactness and outdoor capability of the radio direction finder are also unique. Digital signal processing and the miniaturization of the assemblies enable the complete system - receiving unit, DF server, air conditioning, GPS receiver and IP switch - to be accommodated in a box on the antenna mast. The accommodation in a building or shelter, as required by previous models, is no longer necessary. The entire system can therefore be installed and ready for use in just a few hours. Only a data and power connection is required.

The system family offers two different DF antennas. Equipped with the compact antenna, the direction finding system is easy to load, so it is well suited for transport. Thanks to its quick assembly, the direction finder can be used at temporary airfields, for example when the German Armed Forces set up a landing pad for a few months when deployed abroad.

Rohde & Schwarz developed the new generation of direction finders completely in-house in just two years - and was able to build on decades of experience. The company implemented the system family in accordance with the guidelines of the ICAO and the Federal Supervisory Office for Air Traffic Control