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Ericsson, Saab and Purdue University Announce 5G Project

“Lab to Life” to Augment LAF Airport

Purdue University Airport (LAF), in collaboration with industry partners Ericsson and Saab, announced the creation of a unique 5G network that will serve as a “Lab to Life” providing a testing ground upon which academics, researchers, and business may develop replicable commercial solutions by which operations and security at airports of all sizes may be improved. 5G innovation promises to provide a new generation of capabilities for myriad enterprises. The joint Purdue, Ericsson, Saab project seeks to instantiate private 5G’s benefits to airports and vet new high-performance networks in real-life scenarios.

In the prevailing environment, airports install sensors and systems often requiring hardwired network connections comprising physical connection points established by digging trenches for copper lines or fiber-optic cables. Alternatively, airports may utilize point-to-point radio frequency links, which are often unreliable, or public cellular connections predicated upon subscription fees and constrained by consumer-oriented performance limitations. The collaboration between Purdue University, Ericsson, and Saab renders the antecedent approaches obsolete. By availing themselves of the technology exhibited at Purdue, airports will find they have more flexibility to add or relocate products when undergoing expansion, thereby saving time and resources for operators and consumers.

Ericsson, a leading global provider of information and communication technology, will contribute a private 5G network to the Purdue Research Foundation. Ericsson’s network will be operated at LAF, Purdue’s public-use airport located on the southwest portion of the University’s West Lafayette, Indiana campus. The Hoosier State’s second-busiest airport after Indianapolis International Airport (IND), LAF accommodates upwards of 125,000 annual aircraft operations.

Saab’s contribution to the project consists of the installation of two of the company’s proprietary logistics platforms: Aerobahn, an architecture germane to efficient airline and airport ramp operations; and SAFE Event Management, a security platform used in airport operation centers. Saab will also deploy ADS-B sensors to track aircraft. Cumulatively, Saab’s investments in the LAF undertaking will improve both landside and airside operational safety, efficiency, and security.

Purdue University will provide use of its airport as well as the Lab to Life testbed established throughout Discovery Park District at Purdue, a four-hundred-acre, mixed-use development adjacent the university’s campus.

Purdue President Mung Chiang stated: “Purdue University is the perfect location for this project to innovate airport management. Purdue has established longstanding partnerships with Ericsson and Saab, two Swedish innovators and global tech leaders. Purdue University Airport is one of the handful of airports operated at a research university in the U.S. And Purdue’s Discovery Park District, next to our airport, has provided a lab to life ecosystem where cutting-edge technologies are deployed before any other locations in the country. No other location is better suited for these exciting 5G innovations and network management solutions that will impact people’s lives around the globe.”

Purdue Research Foundation vice president of innovation and technology Troy Hege—whose department manages Discovery Park District at Purdue—set forth: “Expanding the lab to life platform to the Purdue Airport creates great opportunities to advance aviation and mobility innovation and education in partnership with industry, faculty, and students. The combination of Purdue’s operational airport, research faculty, and students with Ericsson’s Private 5G network and Saab’s sensor arrays and operating systems is an innovation and education asset that is unlike anything else that exists today.”

Ericsson Private 5G is a 4G and 5G dual-mode core private network tailored to drive digital transformation across a broad set of industries and enterprises. Ericsson Private 5G is a high-performance, easy-to-use, cellular connectivity solution built to power innovation for industry.

Ericsson Enterprise Wireless Solutions head George Mulhern stated: “We are witnessing uptake in global demand for digitalization at airports that requires stable, secure, and high-performing wireless networking. Ericsson’s Private 5G network will enable cellular connectivity for the Lab to Life innovation platform at the Purdue University Airport. This unique collaboration enables trials and industrialization of 5G applications and use cases that help solve aviation market needs—improving flight safety, enhanced passenger experience, as well as increased efficiencies and cost savings. This is just one more example of how different enterprises can work with 5G networks to develop solutions in real-world environments.”

Purdue Airport manager Adam Baxmeyer considers the private 5G installation a strong fit with the airport’s vision, asserting: “Purdue Airport has proven to be a key location in Indiana to aid commercial and industrial consumers. We have built a sterling reputation through more than ninety-years of service. Our mission also extends to Purdue students, faculty, and staff who hone skills, conduct research, and improve upon today’s aviation and transportation technology. This collaboration is a natural fit for Purdue Airport as it enables us to study and better understand technologies that will be fundamental to airports of the future.”

Saab will be the first industry partner to use the LAF dedicated 5G network. A global defense and security company, Saab opened an advanced manufacturing facility in Discovery Park District at Purdue in 2021. Subject facility supports production of Boeing’s T-7A Red Hawk, an advanced jet trainer in which the next generation of U.S. Air Force fighter and bomber pilots will earn their wings for decades to come.

Saab USA president and CEO Erik Smith stated: “This platform is intended to showcase how state-of-the-art airport systems can work with 5G technology. By combining airside and landside operations to improve airport efficiency and planning, the platform at Purdue will help us continue that journey. Investing together with Ericsson at Purdue is a no-brainer and a win-win for Indiana. We’re proud to be a part of this innovative 5G project, leveraging our longstanding track record of excellence in air traffic control to deliver a solution that will be replicable across other platforms.”

Indiana Economic Development Corp. CEO and chief of staff David Rosenberg averred: “The state applauds the thought leadership of Ericsson, Saab, and Purdue in establishing this collaboration. This type of impactful project between two global industry leaders and an internationally renowned research university all based here in Indiana is what we had hoped for when the state made 5G development a top priority. It is fulfilling to see this collaboration and its commercial results alongside other 5G projects in Indiana.”



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