Air space station for the Galapagos islands with almost zero environmental impact
The IT company Indra has developed an air space surveillance station whose environmental impact has been reduced to almost zero in the Galapagos islands (Ecuador), one of the areas with the strongest environmental laws in the world.
The new facilities are equipped with a secondary radar system located on the San Joaquín hill, in San Cristobal Island. UNESCO has designated the area as a World Heritage Site, to protect it from excessive human ecological footprint. Two centuries ago, the island’s flora and fauna diversity contributed to shape Darwin’s Theory of evolution.
Nowadays the archipelago is a National Park rigorously protected by Ecuador’s authorities. For this reason, Indra had to be careful in order to avoid damaging the environment. The company was extremely observant of the standards regarding electromagnetic issues as established by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). It also conducted a study of environmental impact prior to the works to obtain the license conferred by the country’s Ministry of the Environment and worked alongside the National Park’s technicians who supervised the works at all times.
That proved the way for Indra to meet all environmental requirements and overcame the added difficulty of the remoteness of the area, located at 621 miles off Ecuador’s mainland, which implies a significant amount of logistics obstacles. To deal with this, the company appointed a team of 12 people, most of them from Ecuador and others from the island itself.
The team worked for several months ensuring that accesses, materials, energy systems and equipment employed had a minimum impact on the environment. Even the colors used were chosen to make the station mimetize with the surrounding environment.
The area where the station is located is home to many species of birds, including the black neck stilt (tero), a bird that builds its nests n the ground. Therefore, practically all systems used in the project are aerial structures mounted on poles. The main radar is enclosed in a sphere so birds do not crash against it.
Ecuador’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation is now equipped with a new system to survey Galapagos’ air space whose air traffic management depended on radio communications that also supported aircrafts in their approach to San Cristobal and Baltra airports until now. It will also control the ocean corridor that joins the archipelago with mainland completing Ecuador’s control area.
The data collected through the radar system will be distributed via VSAT satellite terminals and through a microwave link so that airports in the island and the control centres in Guayaquil are able to supervise all the traffic.
The new station will undergo an annual environmental audit to make sure standards are being met.