Charles de Gaulle Public Address, Vigil2, Voice Alarm, Voice Evacuation




Paris Charles de Gaulle airport, also known as Roissy, is the largest international airport in France. Named for the leader of the French Free Forces during the Second World War, founder of the French Fifth Republic and President of France from 1959-1969, it is the world’s tenth busiest airport in total and fifth busiest in terms of international passenger traffic. It also ranks as the twelfth busiest cargo airport.

The original Terminal 1, completed in 1974, is an iconic design built on the image of an octopus when viewed from above. Terminal 2 consists of seven sub-terminals connected by inter-terminal walkways while Terminal 3 consists of a single building for departures and arrivals.

Owned and operated by Groupe ADP (Aeroports de Paris), Charles de Gaulle airport requires a large-scale, reliable voice alarm and public address system.

Groupe ADP looks to Orly airport as an example for Charles de Gaulle

When Groupe ADP decided to upgrade the voice alarm system at Charles de Gaulle, they considered another airport they operate, Orly airport to the south of Paris. At Orly, longtime Baldwin Boxall partner Archean Technologies completed a voice alarm extension and proposed a complete voice alarm refit of the West Terminal. Groupe ADP was thoroughly impressed with the quality of equipment installed at Orly, the capacity of the Baldwin Boxall VIGIL2 system and Archean’s knowledge of maintenance. Archean’s reputation within Groupe ADP for quality of service, a high level of technical expertise and bespoke solutions cemented the decision.

With a vision toward future expansion, additional functionality and the requirement to be fully EN54 certified, Groupe ADP chose Archean Technologies to complete the VA/PA upgrades at Charles de Gaulle. Archean’s Xavier Aumont specified a Baldwin Boxall VIGIL2 voice alarm system along with their own VoIP technology to create a bespoke design. The flexibility of the VIGIL2 components allowed Archean to specify the exact equipment required for each terminal link.

Charles de Gaulle comprised of hundreds of evacuation zones

One of the advantages of employing a VIGIL2 system is the use of different announcement and evacuation zones. In an emergency, specific announcements can be sent to individual zones. The Terminal 2 complex is split into seven sub-terminals with links for foot traffic connecting all buildings except Terminal 2G. For the purpose of the voice alarm and evacuation system, the sub-terminals are grouped in pairs. Each sub-terminal pair represents more than 200 VA/PA zones with several technical rooms.

A zoned VA/PA system allows phased evacuation procedures. Phased evacuation of people makes it possible to ensure those in the most danger are evacuated first. The use of zones also means people in other areas of the airport are kept fully informed of the situation at hand. As many as (but not all) alarms turn out to be false, delaying the evacuation of some areas means less disruption and a lower chance of panic.

The high number of zones at Charles de Gaulle is a result of the sheer size of the installation and the fact that people are constantly on the move between terminals and gates. During normal (non-emergency) operation, the VIGIL2 system is a feature-rich public address system. At Charles de Gaulle, this is an essential part of moving both departing and arriving passengers to their required destinations within the airport.

Charles de Gaulle is a sum of projects

Asked about the complexity of the project, Mr Aumont said, “Specifying and installing the VA/PA system at Charles de Gaulle is not a project, it is a sum of projects. Towards the end of 2018, we finalised the Factory Acceptance Testing (FAT) for Terminal 2B and the link between terminals 2B and 2D. It is an ongoing project.”

When questioned about challenges specific to the Charles de Gaulle specification, Mr Aumont said, “One of the main challenges is to interconnect all technical rooms to manage the voice alarm system for the entire airport as though it were one terminal. The modular networked capability of the VIGIL2 system makes this possible – it is one of the outstanding features of the system.”

Future expansion requires a flexible networked solution

An airport the size of Charles de Gaulle also requires the VA/PA solution to be networked with arrival and departure boards, clocks throughout the airport and other systems. The combination of VIGIL2 and Archean Technologies VoIP solution means Charles de Gaulle is not only networked for present capacity, but prepared for future expansion.

Mr Aumont said, “We have planned for future expansion and additional functionality right from the start. The modular design of the VIGIL2 components makes this possible. The built-in fault diagnostics and reporting are also very important as they meet and exceed the EN54 requirements. As always, our partnership with Baldwin Boxall allows us to provide a bespoke solution of the highest quality.”