Communications, Navigation & Surveillance (CNS)

Aeronautical communications, navigation, and surveillance systems are the backbone of air traffic management. These include surveillance (e.g. radar and multilateration), radio communications, and other key navigational and support equipment. Our technicians and engineers plan, develop, maintain, upgrade and restore these equipment on a continuous basis.

Aeronautical radio communications

Assuring flawless communication between pilots and traffic control is key to air safety. Skyguide maintains a complete infrastructure. All communication systems are secured by often several fallback systems.

Navigational equipment

Radio navigational equipment provides signpost in the sky, enabling pilots who fly by instrument to stay on course in any weather.The three most important ground-based navigational aids are VOR, DME and ILS:

  • VHF Omni-Directional Range (VOR) equipment is an ultra-short wave navigational aid used mainly in airways and close traffic areas of the airports. With the corresponding airborne equipment, the course can be determined from and to the VOR beacon.
  • Distance-Measuring Equipment (DME) shows the pilot the distance to a specified touchdown point on the runway or to a navigational transmitter.
  • Instrument Landing Systems (ILS) allow safe landings even during very bad visibility. The ILS consists of a localiser, a glide path and a DME. With the help of a cross-pointer instrument, IFR pilots receive exact position of their aircraft during the final approach (the last 15 km before landing), compared to the ideal landing centre line, the optimum glide path as well as the distance from the runway threshold.


Satellite-based procedures are growing in importance and skyguide is developing, in collaboration with other partners, new satellite-based navigation procedures. Such procedures have already been successfully implemented, for example at Zurich airport and in the approach to Inselspital in Bern.


Radar is a radio-electric locating procedure, with differences between primary and secondary radar. While primary now plays a minor role in civil air traffic control, except for landing, it is important in compiling the visual representation of the air traffic for military airspace monitoring and fighter control.


Secondary radar equipment supplies additional information from aircraft equipped with transponders (IFR) – flight number, altitude, and speed – which also appears on the screen of the air traffic controller. Skyguide has 2 primary and 6 secondary radar devices, located in Geneva, Zurich, La Dôle and Lägern.


Fuel Dump over French Alps


Fuel dump over southern Germany and Switzerland


Flight trials aiming to optimize the early morning arrival wave at Zurich Airport kick started


Job info, skyguide Genève


Cité métiers Palexpo Genève


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