DFS support tool offers airspace capacity boost

German air navigation service provider DFS and software business GLVI (Gesellschaft für Luftverkehrsinformatik) have developed a high performance system to assist air traffic controllers in monitoring flight paths.

During large-scale simulations, air traffic controllers were able to control up to 20 per cent more traffic when using the Controller Assistance Tool (CATO) while maintaining high safety levels.

DFS and GLVI whose partnership commenced in 2011 said they now want to pursue research to develop additional functions that will result in further automation of air traffic control in the future.

CATO helps air traffic controllers detect and solve potential conflicts. The system immediately informs the controller about flight levels and headings that are conflict-free and can be issued for individual flights. This information is re-calculated at short intervals. Software algorithms developed by GLVI for DFS form the core element of this tool which enables real-time conflict detection and resolution.

“From a technical perspective, CATO algorithms are unique because of their high level of performance. Large-scale simulations, at times with extremely high traffic volumes, have shown that controller productivity and airspace capacity could be increased considerably,” explained Robert Schickling, managing director of DFS.

“The next step will be to gradually implement the functions into our future air traffic control system iCAS along with our European partners from the iTEC initiative who are working on similar solutions.”

Ralf Bertsch, director of the planning and innovation division at DFS, added: “The processing speed of the tested algorithm is impressive. Fast algorithms are essential for further automation in air traffic control.”

DFS and GLVI have been collaborating on the project to develop the assistance tool since 2011. It is funded by the Single European Sky Air Traffic Management Research (SESAR) programme.

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