The technologic future of nordic aviation

The Scandinavian countries situated in northern Europe, include vast areas that are sparsely populated. Aviation often provides the main and in some cases the only possible transportation means for people living in these areas. But how can we provide future local air traffic services also in sparsely populated areas which also is economic sustainable?

Remote operated towers

  The Scandinavian countries situated in northern Europe, include vast areas that are sparsely populated. Aviation often provides the main and in some cases the only possible transportation means for people living in these areas. But how can we provide future local air traffic services also in sparsely populated areas which also is economic sustainable?

 

  In general there is a requirement from the public community to ensure that sufficient airports are open to support scheduled flights, medical flights and all kinds of general aviation, even if the number of flights can be as low as one or two per day. Providing local Air Traffic Services (ATS) either as Air Traffic Control (ATC) or Aerodrome Flight Information Services (AFIS) at these airports is costly. Even if regular opening hours are limited, there is a constant need for staff to be available on call.

  Traditionally the main “tool” for staff in a control tower is the “out of the window view” (OTW), i.e. information available by looking out from the windows in the tower. This is complemented on bigger airports with ground radars, other sensors and guiding systems. However, these well proven and safe operations have constraints at some airports due to single operational viewpoint from a central high up perspective, subject to prevailing viewing conditions at the time (e.g. clear, fog, rain, snow etc). These situations can create limitations in capacity and affect the regularity of flights. The Nordic ANS providers are exploring new means for providing ATS to these small remote airports. The rapid technical development of electronic images makes it possible to provide a high resolution reproduction of the OTW on electronic displays, monitors and screens located far from the actual airport. This reproduction can be enhanced by functions that improve the image and even make it possible to see through darkness, fog and snow.

Out of the window view

Traditionally the main “tool” for staff in a control tower is the “out of the window view” (OTW), i.e. information available by looking out from the windows in the tower. This is complemented on bigger airports with ground radars, other sensors and guiding systems. However, these well proven and safe operations have constraints at some airports due to single operational viewpoint from a central high up perspective, subject to prevailing viewing conditions at the time (e.g. clear, fog, rain, snow etc). These situations can create limitations in capacity and affect the regularity of flights.

Remote air traffic services is an enabler for air navigation service providers to provide safe and flexible services at airports, at any time, at any location.

The Nordic ANS providers are exploring new means for providing ATS to these small remote airports. The rapid technical development of electronic images makes it possible to provide a high resolution reproduction of the OTW on electronic displays, monitors and screens located far from the actual airport. This reproduction can be enhanced by functions that improve the image and even make it possible to see through darkness, fog and snow.

Automatic object identification

  Automatic object identification techniques can for example be applied to identify birds and avoid hazardous situations. Furthermore, the displayed information can be sampled from different viewpoints and overlaid with information from additional sources such as information about flights, operational information, reference points etc. With support from ground network and communication infrastructure, it is now possible to provide ATS from remote facilities located far from the actual airport.

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  It is expected that significant savings can be made when local towers are not needed anymore. Several aerodromes can be served from one single remote center, thus ensuring safe and cost-effective solutions to remote airports. This initiative doesn’t change the air traffic services provided to airspace users. The same fundamental principles and working procedures will still be applied.

  These new functions are likely to become very useful in traditionally manned towers as well during adverse weather situations, thus improving the capacity. The solution is also considered as means for contingency in situations where the normal facilities at airports are no longer available.

  Technical solutions and operational procedures are being developed within SESAR, the European R&D project, where Avinor and LFV, ANS providers in Norway and Sweden, are deeply involved.

  A pilot project is establishing a Remote Tower Services (RTS) centre in Sundsvall in middle Sweden that will provide remote ATS to surrounding airports. Pending a positive outcome of the approval process, the centre is planned to be in operation in the beginning of 2014. Similar activities are also on-going on Bodø airport in Northern Norway.

  Both of these projects support industrialization of this solution through safety analysis, definition of technical standards, adjustment of operational procedures and assessing the need for education of ATS staff and pilots.

  Remote air traffic services is an enabler for air navigation service providers to provide safe and flexible services at airports, at any time, at any location.