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18 March 2019
by Kristo Reinsalu, General Manager
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EANS introduces remote digital towers

A new partnership between Estonian Air Navigation Services (EANS) and Cybernetica has led to a remote air traffic control tower solution, which allows air traffic at several aerodromes to be controlled simultaneously. At the 2019 World ATM Congress in Madrid, EANS and Cybernetica revealed a new partnership to increase ease of air traffic monitoring.

A remote tower is a short-range air traffic control solution, where the visual presentation of the area of responsibility is received via cameras located at aerodromes, transferred via fibre optic cables and presented on a panoramic screen at a working position called a remote tower module. This means that the air traffic controller does not have to be located in the immediate proximity of the aerodrome,” said Üllar Salumäe, the Member of the Management Board of EANS. He added that the visual reproduction can be overlaid with information from additional sources like surveillance equipment and infrared cameras, so the visual reproduction will be enhanced with the help of different technical solutions to support situational awareness in case of different light and visibility conditions. According to Salumäe, such an approach creates the opportunity to simultaneously manage air traffic at several aerodromes and to provide a more cost-effective, yet high-quality service.

According to Martin Link, Cybernetica’s Head of Sales for Communications and Surveillance Systems, the greatest advantage of the remote tower is open architecture, which provides the opportunity to customise the remote tower solution to the needs of any company or country in the world. He said: “In addition, it is possible to integrate the system with other software systems or to use the solution as a basis for developing your own specific system, making it all more cost-effective than current air traffic control alternatives.” Furthermore, the technology is developed in a way that there will be no need for major changes in operational working methods of air traffic services personnel. At the moment, prototype development and system certification are underway with a provision that the remote tower will be on the market in 2020.

The development of the remote tower started in September 2016 in cooperation with Estonian leading software developer Cybernetica, which has extensive experience in developing surveillance solutions for vessel traffic services and video monitoring for port operations. The aim was to develop a remote tower air traffic control solution that would meet the reality of Estonian market. “As there is only one major aerodrome and four regional aerodromes in Estonia, it is not practical to use different systems for air traffic control, but to transfer regional aerodromes to a single air traffic control system. The  existence of a remote tower is a prerequisite for the switch,” explained Salumäe. Although the system was initially designed for Estonian air traffic control, it can be easily used by any nation or company.

Execrpt from International Airport Review

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