The marking of the waterway with fairway and navigation signs is an essential prerequisite for the safety of navigation on the Danube. Since the beginning of 2018 viadonau is responsible for the regarding operative tasks (set-up, maintenance and removal of all landbased and waterside navigation signs). All sovereign tasks remain with the Supreme Shipping Authority of the Ministry of Transport.

In order to increase traffic safety on the Austrian Danube waterway, clearly visible and low-maintenance plastic buoys were installed to replace the previous steel barrels (see also Transfer of the tasks concerning the marking of the waterway). In a next step, these PE buoys were equipped with remote monitoring modules in order to, on the one hand, be able to restore the tonnage more quickly and thus ensure traffic safety after a navigation mark got hit by a vessel and/or drifted downstream and, on the other hand, to be able to locate the perpetrators of damage to fairway marks and to be able to assert damage claims (the legal basis was created for this). In the course of the project, the buoys in the headwaters of the Danube power plants as well as the chains and anchors used for floating navigation signs to attach them to the river bed will be modernised. 

News and status of the activity

In 2018, all land- and water-based rhythmic lights (navigation signs with rhythmically flashing lights) along and on the Austrian Danube have already been equipped with remote monitoring modules. The solar compact units send a status message twice a day via a satellite network to the monitoring software, which shows the current function and position of the respective unit (position, possible position deviations, inclination in the water...).

Since 2019, the satellite remote monitoring of the floating navigation signs (fairway buoys), which are monitored with the same monitoring software as the beacons, has been successively rolled out and optimised. If a fairway buoy drifts or is displaced from its target position (for example because it was hit by a vessel), an alarm is immediately triggered, which is sent by e-mail to a defined group of people via the satellite network and the server behind it. This information is essential for the waterway management in order to be able to optimally monitor the buoyage of the waterway.

For the remote monitoring of the fairway buoys, a digital interface was established in 2020 between viadonau on the one hand and the Supreme Navigation Authority in the BMK and the Navigation Supervision on the other. As a result, seamless and digital monitoring of the position of the floating fairway markers can basically be carried out by the aforementioned organisations. Parallel to this, the software for remote monitoring was continuously optimised in the course of regular operation.

The modernisation of the fairway signalisation also includes the conversion of the current buoy barriers in the headwaters of the Danube power plants and locks to PE floating poles. The delivery of these modern fairway signs was in 2021. In addition, the new acquisition of marking vessel 2 and pusher 2 aims to reduce response times and increase resilience.

The activity makes a substantial contribution to the implementation of measure 
01. Proactively implement customer-oriented waterway management of the Action Programme for the Danube 2022.