FORT McMURRAY, Canada — Business is taking off at Canada’s Fort McMurray International Airport, thanks to an economic boom at the nearby Athabasca oil sands. The airport has become one of the busiest in Canada, and the growth in passenger demand spurred the construction of a new international terminal building, which broke ground in August 2011 and opened in June 2014. The new $258 million international terminal building is approximately 160,000 square feet, can accommodate 1.5 million passengers per year and features state-of-the-art technology throughout—including a HARMAN Professional public address and life safety system installed by the Vancouver division of A/V integrator PJS Systems (www.pjssystems.com).
The new terminal has six gates, two baggage carousels, 16 retail, food and beverage outlets and hosts five airlines. The HARMAN Professional PA system covers the entire facility. “Each of the gates, ticket counters, offices, the baggage claim area and other locations has its own zone, so communication to passengers and even internally among the airport staff has to be carefully coordinated,” said Fazle Quasha, IT Systems Coordinator at Fort McMurray International Airport. “In specifying the system, we were looking for something that would be absolutely effective in serving our needs, yet is easy to use and requires little maintenance.” Quasha also knew that a HARMAN system is successfully deployed at Vancouver International Airport, which served as a reference when deciding on the right products for the airport.
To fulfill these objectives, airport management and PJS Systems selected an all-HARMAN integrated communications solution based around the IDX Information Delivery System, a complete hardware and software system that provides paging, background music, pre-recorded message and life safety capability for airports, transit facilities and other commercial applications. Among the system’s key components are the IDX GBS-1 Gate Boarding System, PDC400 Server, DAC-8 Digital Audio Controllers and TTS-2 English and French Text-to-Speech Language CS-1 Libraries. The installation also includes 18 BSS Audio DT720 Desktop Touchscreen Stations, a BSS Audio RM720 Rack Mount Touchscreen Station, BSS Audio signal processors, AKG mics and Crown DCi Network amplifiers.
A key requirement was that the system could be controlled and managed by just one person—and that person is Quasha. “I handle the system and all the software personally,” he said. “I manage all the zones, adjust the volumes, oversee signal routing and everything else that’s required.” He noted, “It’s a huge system, yet the routing and switching is unbelievable. The cable mapping feature alone makes everything really easy to refer to and understand. The BSS desktop touchscreen stations offer an extremely simple and straightforward yet effective user interface.”
Quasha can route the audio to any location or the entire airport if announcements need to go to everyone in the terminal. “The speech intelligibility is exceptional no matter where you are in the terminal, even in areas of higher ambient noise,” he pointed out. The system’s English and French text-to-speech language capability makes it particularly well suited for the bilingual facility.
The HARMAN Professional PA installation meets all mandated life safety requirements, and Quasha notes its performance is exemplary in this regard. “The system can readily be switched to deliver emergency messages and there’s an emergency announcement button that instantly raises the volume by 10dB so that everyone can hear it. We did not have that option before. It’s one of the many details that exemplifies the way that every single aspect of the system is completely thought out and designed for maximum usability and effectiveness.”
HARMAN (www.harman.com) designs, manufactures and markets premier audio, visual, infotainment and enterprise automation solutions for the automotive, consumer and professional markets. With leading brands including AKG®, Harman Kardon®, Infinity®, JBL®, Lexicon® , Mark Levinson ® and Revel®, the Company is admired by audiophiles, musicians and the entertainment venues where they perform. More than 25 million automobiles on the road today are equipped with HARMAN audio and infotainment systems. HARMAN has a workforce of approximately 17,600 people across the Americas, Europe, and Asia and reported sales of $5.9 billion during the last 12 months ended December 31, 2014.