Interview with Magnus K Johansson, Head of Business Area System Integration at Combitech AB. a member of the SAG.

Magnus K Johansson

Combitech AB has around 1800 skilled technical consultants. One of the focus areas is within the Aviation Sector.

What are the most interesting developments that you are engaged in for the moment?
We are deeply involved in several ongoing projects concerning automation and autonomy in different domains. As one example, we are part of a LFV research project AVAP (Automated Vehicles for Airports) where we at Combitech have developed a system for keeping track of all movements on the Airport Airside, including allowing and revoking the automated vehicles’ “clearance” to drive on the manoeuvre area (airside), more or less the same way as manned vehicles need clearance when entering e.g. the runway. The system, that is based on the already operational system DRIWS (Digital Runway Incursion Warning System), not only keeps track of movements but also gives both drivers and air traffic controllers an alert when a vehicle is in the wrong location without proper clearance. Hence, utilising the system effectively reduces the risk for runway incursions and ensures that runway incursions are detected, which enables involved personnel to act accordingly and thereby avoid potentially serious incidents. The system, that has an extremely high precision positioning capability without any latency, cannot only be used within aviation but also at for example ports and mines.


Which feature are you most proud of in the system?
I’m most proud of the fact that most of the features that users asked for, including what was requested by the research project, were already in the system. The DRIWS system already had the necessary capabilities for managing vehicles – autonomous or not – and thereby significantly contribute to complying with relevant safety criteria in an unparalleled cost-effective way. This is entirely a result of the skilled engineers behind the system, who have both deep technical and operational knowledge.

What are the success factors?
It is definitely the cooperation between the different stakeholders. We have the same goal, efficient operations, as a driving force.

So what are the obstacles?
I would not say there are obstacles, however, the process for having a system validated for Airside use is long and takes much effort from all involved. Safety is of course core, but a more efficient process would facilitate the progress in several areas. A balanced approach to managing risks and “bureaucracy” is a factor if we want to modernize our airports. Someone said that we must not let the best be the enemy of the good, and translated into the aviation domain I get the feeling that we sometimes continue to use obsolete and inefficient solutions, while waiting a perhaps unnecessary long time for the approval of a clearly better solution. I believe that we need to change the regulations to be more based on functional requirements, rather than relying on detailed specifications of antiquated technology.

You are a member of SAG, what advantages do you see regarding your membership?
The membership facilitates for us to meet companies working within the Aviation sector that we, perhaps, would not have encountered otherwise. We learn from their experiences of the markets and customers. It gives us an outside in perspective, which is very useful. It also gives us the opportunity to build alliances in order to gain new and larger business and market intelligence working together. We also find partners, with whom we can develop new products and services, where some of these ideas are related to autonomy and automation.

Combitech AB will be the hosts of the next SAG Member meeting on January 14th located at Combitech Stockholm. Contact the SAG team for more details.

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