Thales and DGAC operate the world’s first solar-powered Air Traffic Control radar station in Calama, Chile


Chile’s General Directorate of Civil Aeronautics (DGAC), Chile’s civil aviation authority and Thales, a global leader in technology, are operating the world’s first 100% powered by solar energy air traffic control radar station. This technological innovation places Chile at the forefront of sustainable initiatives within the civil aviation industry for a greener future and ensures secure air traffic surveillance in Northern Chile.

Air safety is critical at all times. Whether an airspace is particularly busy, or whether it is going through a calmer period, Air Traffic Control Officers must maintain constant awareness of aircraft’s positions within their airspace. The slightest image gap could have significant consequences for air passenger safety.

Developed by Thales for the Dirección General de Aeronáutica Civil (DGAC), the solar-powered radar system is comprised of an advanced and efficient STAR NG primary radar and RSM secondary radar. Combined, the radars provide all the operational surveillance requirements of both civil and military air traffic control detecting both slow and fast-moving targets such as helicopters, commercial planes, and jets. The 100% solar panelled ATC radar station will help monitor the commercial flights operated daily by the DGAC in the country, providing increased safety and reliability.

Located in the Atacama Desert in Northern Chile at more than 3500 metres, the radar station will run exclusively on sustainable energy by harnessing the region’s high solar incidence. Equipped with 340 strategically positioned panels, the station has a maximum generation capacity of approximately 960 kWh per day, covering an area of 10,000 m2.

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