Air Traffic Management STRATEGY, TECHNOLOGY AND MANAGEMENT FOR THE WORLD'S MOST GLOBAL INDUSTRY Mon, 25 May 2015 17:10:04 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Emirates, Airways NZ in training launch Mon, 25 May 2015 17:10:04 +0000 More ››]]> Emirates Aviation University and Airways New Zealand and have officially opened their purpose-built air traffic control training facility in Dubai, one of the world’s largest air transport hubs.

Airways, New Zealand’s air navigation services provider, will deliver air traffic control training for to up to 200 students per year at the campus over the next five years. The first course will be held at the facility in late May.

Vice Chancellor of Emirates Aviation University, Dr Ahmad al Ali, says the programme fills a critical gap in the Middle East region for the training of air traffic controllers.

“There is a global shortage of air traffic controllers, which has serious repercussions for the aviation industry – particularly in this part of the world where air traffic is expected to continue growing.  This joint venture allows us to capitalise on Airways’ 20 years of experience in training controllers around the world, and to provide a highly-specialised resource that our industry so desperately needs for future development,” said Dr Ahmad Al Ali.

“Emirates Aviation University already has a track record and reputation for providing world-class aviation training. This partnership with Airways complements our existing training programmes and further cements our position as the leading centre for aviation-related training and education,” says Dr Al Ali.

Sharon Cooke, Airways’ head of training, says the organisation will provide a full suite of ATC ab-initio, air traffic services operations and air traffic management training programmes at the university. Airways has installed a state-of-the-art Total Control simulator at the facility, providing students with a highly realistic tower experience via three-dimensional high definition graphics.

“We’re delighted to be working with an organisation as prestigious as EAU. Our track record in the provision of world-class ATC training and technologies, combined with EAU’s wider aviation portfolio and educational leadership in the region, sees this partnership well placed for success,” said Ms Cooke.

Airways’ partnership with EAU is helping to fuel growth of the region’s fast moving aviation sector. In 2013 the aviation sector made an estimated US$16.5 billion value-added contribution to Dubai’s economy, equivalent to 16.5% of Dubai’s economy-wide GDP. Beyond 2020, the sector’s contribution is estimated at US$48.6 billion, or 24.7% of Dubai’s GDP.

Airways has worked in the Middle East region for more than 10 years, primarily delivering ATC ab-initio training and recruitment solutions within the United Arab Emirates. The organisation has also worked with the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) in Saudi Arabia, training 60 air traffic control students at its training campuses in New Zealand over the course of two years.

The training will be provided at EAU in accordance with ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices, which means graduates are well prepared to achieve ratings at airports and radar centres around the world.

Emirates Aviation University is part of Emirates Group and Airways is the state-owned air traffic control organisation from New Zealand.

Established in 1991, Emirates Aviation University is a leading educational institution in the Middle East for aeronautical engineering, aviation management, business management, and aviation safety and security studies. The university is the academic wing of the Emirates Group; a global travel and tourism conglomerate known worldwide for their commitment to the highest standards of quality in every aspect of business.

The university is licensed by the UAE Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research and the Knowledge & Human Development Authority and offers an extensive range of educational opportunities designed to provide students with the best aviation related specialisations. Students can chose from vocational, undergraduate and postgraduate programmes that combine the highest standard of academics with the latest development in the field of aviation.

For more information visit

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FAA launches datacomm messaging at Newark Fri, 22 May 2015 10:14:02 +0000 More ››]]> NextGen technology is helping to keep departing aircraft on schedule using datalink technology as they fly out of Newark, New Jersey, into some of the busiest and most congested airspace in the United States.

FedEx, United Airlines and UPS have been participating in trials with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in Newark and Memphis since 2013 to demonstrate Data Communications (Data Comm) capabilities and benefits.

Data Comm is an FAA NextGen technology that revolutionizes communications between air traffic controllers and pilots.Data Comm provides additional advanced capabilities for controller-to-pilot communications using digital information exchange.

By exchanging digital messages in addition to talking to each other over the radio, air traffic controllers, pilots, and airline operations centers can communicate more clearly and efficiently. Better communication improves controller and pilot productivity, which enhances airspace capacity and reduces flight delays. It also helps aircraft fly more direct routes, saving time and fuel, reduces the impact on the environment, and improves safety.

Air traffic controllers currently use radio voice communications to give clearances and other flight information to pilots, which is time-consuming and restrictive. Data Comm provides a two-way data exchange between controllers and flight crews for clearances, instructions, advisories, flight crew requests and reports. It enhances air traffic safety by allowing controllers to give more timely and effective clearances.

FedEx, United Airlines, and UPS already are seeing reduced delays and cost savings as a result of Data Comm benefits. They achieved those benefits because of reduced communication time between controllers and pilots, as well as improved re-routing around weather and congestion, which all translate to time saved for the flying public.

The FAA plans to deploy Data Comm in more than 50 air traffic control towers beginning in 2015 and in air traffic control facilities that manage high altitude traffic beginning in 2019. International carriers can also benefit from Data Comm capabilities and have participated in the trials at Newark.

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NATS’ December 12 response ‘impressive’ Fri, 22 May 2015 09:07:50 +0000 More ››]]> Air Traffic Management is here! Apply for your copy today, download the app or simply read online – and it's FREE!

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The probe into the computer failure which halted traffic across England and Wales on December 12 has saluted the response level by UK air traffic control.

The report by the inquiry headed by Sir Robert Walmsley commended the speed with which NATS mobilised its ‘impressive and comprehensive crisis management capabilities’ adding that it would be ‘unrealistic’ to expect that complex systems would never fail.

Even so, the inquiry pointed out that despite the timeliness of the response by both NATS staff and its contractor engineering design team, the fast diagnosis and resolution of the system outage was very much down to the fact that high level expertise happened to be on hand.

“It is clear that the presence of several additional senior, qualified and experienced personnel who actively contributed to the initial failure diagnosis, supervision and management of the operational recovery in [the London Area Control] was key, but possibly owed more to accident than design,” the report stated.

“Ensuring that such experienced staff are available and ready to respond in a timely fashion in the event of an incident is perhaps an area that would benefit from more formal attention as NATS’ business continuity plans are reviewed going forward.”

The incident occurred on December 12 with the failure at 2.44 pm of a computer system used to provide data to controllers to assist decision-making when managing the traffic flying at high level over England and Wales.

This traffic included aircraft that had departed or which were planned to arrive at major London airports (Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton and City) as well as aircraft transiting UK airspace.

Controllers put pre-agreed operating procedures into action for this particular computer system failure; these included adopting manual methods for decision-making to ensure aircraft continue to maintain safe separation and restricting air traffic entering their area of responsibility.

At 2.55pm all departures were stopped from London airports and at 3pm all departures were stopped from European airports that were planned to route through affected UK airspace.

Engineering experts were able to determine the nature of the failure and agree a safe recovery procedure so that the computer system was restored to controllers at 3.49pm, but without its normal level of redundancy. By 7pm, engineering staff believed they understood the cause of failure and full redundancy of the computer systems was restored at 8.10pm.

Traffic restrictions were gradually lifted from 3.55pm as confidence increased, and the final restriction was lifted at 8.30pm. The disruption caused by the restrictions affected airlines, airports and passengers into the following day.

NATS said it was pleased that the report confirmed that its actions to reduce capacity to preserve safety had been appropriate.

It agreed with the inquiry that it is unrealistic to expect that complex systems will never fail but said it would continue to invest in making sure that failures are extremely rare and the impact of such failures on the travelling public are minimised.

Martin Rolfe, NATS chief executive officer, said: “The inquiry has been a very valuable experience for NATS and I want to express my thanks to the entire panel for their thorough and professional job. The provision of safe and efficient air traffic services is of fundamental importance to the country and we are very sorry that things went wrong on 12 December.

“We will complete our study of the report in the coming weeks and will promptly implement the recommendations applicable to us in order to continue providing the otherwise outstanding service that our customers rightly expect.”

NATS said it will take steps to ensure that its operational procedures are clearer across the industry to improve collaborative decision-making and speed up the recovery process.


  • In December 2013, a computer glitch similarly prevented NATS controllers from switching from night to daytime operations at NATS’ area control centre at Swanwick, disrupting airport operations across the UK. The then NATS managing director Martin Rolfe outlines the response of the UK air navigation service provider in Learning Curve
  • It’s All About The People
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RAAF acquires more Adacel ATC simulators Thu, 21 May 2015 13:49:29 +0000 More ››]]> Adacel has been awarded a contract by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) valued at more than A$2.0 million for the acquisition of additional Air Traffic Control (ATC) simulators.

The contract calls for the supply of nine new Adacel MaxSim Part-Task Trainers (PTTs) and the upgrade of two existing systems to augment the established training capability located at the RAAF School of Air Traffic Control (SATC) based at East Sale under a contract awarded in 2008. SATC has two 360-degree and one 252-degree full immersion tower simulators together with six Individual Task Trainers and one Radar simulator making it the largest and most comprehensive Air Traffic Control training facility in the Southern hemisphere.

The new PTTs will be single position versions similar to the dual position systems recently installed by Adacel at the Airservices Australia facility in Brisbane and will be deployed at each airfield controlled by RAAF ATC officers including civil/military airports such as Williamtown (Newcastle), Darwin and Townsville.

The PTTs functionality serves as both tower and radar simulators and provides RAAF ATC detachments with a site-specific environment for induction and refresher training. The PTTs will be progressively delivered by the end of September.

SATC will further enhance its training capability with an additional contract awarded to Adacel to update the three full immersion simulators to the latest generation laser projectors, providing increased visual acuity through improved brightness, contrast and color rendering by the new projectors.

Adacel’s ATC simulators have proven to be very effective in developing higher proficiency and accelerating the learning process of controllers during their course of study and ongoing training. The Company is committed to designing advanced systems that provide ATC students with the realistic hands-on practice to reinforce learning the advanced skills required to be a competent controller.

“We are proud to continue our long term relationship with the RAAF supplying them with the state-of-the-art simulators needed to support their training objectives,”said Seth Brown, CEO of Adacel.

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Air Traffic Management is here! Apply for your copy today – FREE! Wed, 20 May 2015 14:01:09 +0000 More ››]]> Features The Remote Tower Revolution p12LFV chief executive Olle Sundin explains how the Swedish air navigation service provider plans to exploit the technology benefits of remote tower services p14 European ATM safety regulator Jussi Myllarniemi outlines how EASA made the safety case for remote towers P16INTERVIEW ferroNATS managing director Gonzalo Cañete chronicles the  experiences of a brand new service provider and discusses what may be on the horizon P19Automatic Pilot? Does pilotless flight and a high degree of automation offer greater safety? Europe A Special Report p22The Helios 2015 ATM industry survey demonstrates just how much - and how little - has changed within the European industry after ten years. p26 Game Plan SESAR deployment chiefs have unveiled an ambitious strategy to roll out the advanced technologies. They discuss their approach and the challenges ahead. DATA A Special Report p28 COVER STORY Just what is the impact of aviation tracking sites and social media on Just Culture? p34 Focus Point UN aviation agency ICAO wants the industry to come clean on its safety record. Why is the industry resisting? p36Asia Pacific Regional Focus  In this special report on the fast growth region Greg Russell questions whether predicted growth in the region’s aviation is achievable. Ian Thompson takes a look at the OneSky programme efforts to transform two distinct working cultures. CAAS’ Poh Theen Soh mulls the progress of a much touted air traffic management renaissance while Airways New Zealand attempts to offer their world class training needs. Finally, NautelNav demonstrates how solar energy is powering ATM infrastructure on a remote island. p50LAST WORD Maurice Georges of France’s DSNA, discusses the challenge of managing safety in an open, transparent – and publicly accessible - way

Issue 2, 2015
Remote Tower Revolution
LFV chief executive Olle Sundin explains how the Swedish air navigation service provider plans to exploit the technology benefits of remote tower services. Also,
European ATM safety regulator EASA outlines how it is making the safety case for remote towers
Automatic Pilot? Does pilotless flight and a high degree of automation offer greater safety?
The Helios 2015 ATM industry survey demonstrates just how much – and how little – has changed within the European industry after ten years.
Game Plan SESAR deployment chiefs have unveiled an ambitious strategy to roll out the advanced technologies. They discuss their approach and the challenges ahead.
COVER STORY Just what is the impact of aviation tracking sites and social media on Just Culture?
Focus Point UN aviation agency ICAO wants the industry to come clean on its safety record. Why is the industry resisting?
LAST WORD Maurice Georges of France’s DSNA, discusses the challenge of managing safety in an open, transparent – and publicly accessible – way

The latest issue of Air Traffic Management is out!

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Each issue of Air Traffic Management offers hard hitting, independent editorial about key aspects of the business. From the drive towards space-based air traffic management, to the integration of cockpit datalink technology and the development of advanced ground surveillance and precision-landing systems, our authoritative journalists keep senior executives informed of vital changes in the industry.

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Eurocontrol to lose its Network Manager role? Wed, 20 May 2015 11:03:25 +0000 More ››]]> Air Traffic Management is here! Apply for your copy today, download the app or simply read online – and it's FREE!

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Eurocontrol’s Network Manager could soon be merged into the brand new SESAR Deployment Manager.

The SESAR Deployment Manager which was selected on 5 December is led by former Italian air traffic control chief Massimo Garbini who heads a broad coalition of principal industry stakeholders – air traffic control bodies, airlines and airports – each expected to play a crucial role in rolling out the advanced ATM technologies required to make the European network operate in a far more efficient way.

Since it assumed its role the SESAR Deployment Manager has tabled 110 projects – developed through the SESAR Joint Undertaking research and development initiative – for public funding. The total estimated cost of the development phase of SESAR is €2.1 billion, to be shared equally between the European Union, Eurocontrol and industry.

The Network Manager, meanwhile, was created in 2011 through Single European Sky legislation by the European Commission to optimise the aviation network’s performance. It addresses performance issues strategically, operationally and technically and its remit is to drive improvements in safety, capacity, flight efficiency and cost effectiveness throughout European airspace.

Network Manager offers ‘perfect’ fit within the Single European Sky: Sultana

Eurocontrol’s Network Manager offers ‘perfect’ fit within the Single European Sky: Sultana

Its remit lasts until the end of a second reference period of a EU performance scheme – that is, until 31 December 2019 – and Eurocontrol has indicated it will seek re-designation for the period beyond 2019.

A highly placed source tells Air Traffic Management: “This is just a speculation for the time being. There are strong links between operations (Network Manager) and deployment (SESAR Deployment Manager). The idea was that, as soon as the two bodies have the same governance mechanisms, they could be merged into a sort of European ATM Manager. This would imply developing the Network Manager’s governance to make it more industry-driven.”

While the move will likely be opposed by some European member states that want to retain a degree of control in the Network Manager, there are signs emerging of an internal shift towards integration with the news that the SESAR Deployment Manager and Network Manager will formalise their cooperation by the end of May.

This will be accompanied by the establishment of a technical coordinating group with the SESAR Joint Undertaking to allow for discussions between the three members as to how, when and where validated solutions are deployed most effectively into network operations.

The Helios 2015 ATM industry survey which was conducted in association with Air Traffic Management magazine indicates just how much – and sometimes just how little – has changed within the European industry.

The Helios 2015 ATM industry survey which was conducted in association with Air Traffic Management magazine indicates just how much – and sometimes just how little – has changed within the European industry. Read its findings here.

Joe Sultana, director of the Network Manager, told a European Commission workshop in early May how its role offers a ‘perfect’ fit within the Single European Sky, complementing the SESAR JU, the European Aviation Safety Agency and the SESAR Deployment Manager.

“The Network Manager has a fundamental role to play in the Single European Sky now and in the future,” said Sultana. “The Network Manager is not just there for major disruptions or crisis management or day-to-day flow management. The Network Manager is the heartbeat of the Single European Sky, ensuring that the operation works all around the body parts of the Single European Sky, and beyond.”

Even if full integration should not occur, the move is being seen as potentially allowing the Network Manager – with a more industry-led stance – to move its ‘centre of gravity’ out from Eurocontrol which would help Europe’s air navigation safety agency maintain its role both as an intergovernmental body and pan-European organisation ready to assist its member states.


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Walker to head Lockheed Martin UK’s IS&GS Wed, 20 May 2015 09:21:23 +0000 More ››]]> Air Traffic Management is here! Apply for your copy today, download the app or simply read online – and it's FREE!

Air Traffic Management is here! Apply for your own subscription today. Alternatively, download the app or simply read online – and it’s all FREE!

Lockheed Martin has appointed a new vice president to lead its ICT business in the UK and Europe.

Justin Walker will serve as regional lead of the company’s Information Systems and Global Solutions (IS&GS) business, which provides innovative information technology and communications technology solutions to customers in the public sector, security and defence and transport and energy sectors.

BREAKING: Eurocontrol to lose Network Manager?

“A key focus for Lockheed Martin is increasing our presence in the United Kingdom and Europe by creating more jobs and winning more customers across a range of sectors. As a trusted leader in the industry, we are confident that Justin will be a key driver in strengthening our international presence,” said Roy Stevens, vice president of IS&GS’ Global Solutions business.

In his previous role, Justin served as the vice president of Services, Air Operations at Thales UK, a company where he had held a range of increasingly senior leadership positions over a number of years.

On his appointment as Vice President of IS&GS for UK and Europe, Justin Walker said: “For Lockheed Martin to maintain its position as a leading provider of Information and Communication Technologies, cyber, airport, air traffic management and command and control solutions, it is important to identify and maximise business opportunities and I am looking forward to leading the team to great success.”

Lockheed Martin UK, headquartered in London, is the UK-based arm of Lockheed Martin Corporation.


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Sabre’s Flight Explorer expands global tracking Tue, 19 May 2015 14:03:29 +0000 More ››]]> Sabre has enhanced its AirCentre Flight Explorer solution using Planefinder data, offering additional coverage globally for aircraft position information as part of the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen).

Planefinder receives next generation tracking technology (Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast System – ADS-B) data feeds used by aircraft to transmit their name, position, call sign, status and more.  The addition of Planefinder data furthers Sabre Flight Explorer’s expansion of flight-tracking capabilities toward complete global coverage, particularly in Europe, Asia Pacific, and Central and South America where coverage was often limited to proprietary flight data.

ADS-B data enables airlines to track aircraft with increased awareness of conditions that could impact flights, resulting in reduced air traffic delays and increased fuel and flight time efficiency. The airline industry continues to evolve from a ground-based radar system to the more reliable ADS-B based system, which in the future will be satellite-based.

“As part of our continued commitment to provide our customers with innovative solutions, it’s important that we stay on the forefront of adopting and making available the latest in data and technology,” said Kamal Qatato, vice president of Sabre AirCentre, which provides software for airline operations. “Working with Planefinder has enabled Sabre to enhance our Flight Explorer solution with new data source technology.  The ability to include the ADS-B feed further enriches the data available in Flight Explorer to support decisions in real-time flight management.”

Swiss International Air Lines uses Sabre’s enhanced Flight Explorer and believes it has made a significant difference in their flight operations.

“With the new ADS-B tracking technology in Flight Explorer we are able to precisely track the location of our entire fleet,” Eric Nantier, senior manager, Operations Research and ATM, Swiss International Air Lines. “This gives us stronger awareness within our operations, which enables us to actively steer our aircraft from the ground with the most accurate and current information. It has become a very important tool in our operational steering and optimization process and has the potential for great time and fuel savings.”


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Asset Value Tue, 19 May 2015 13:01:17 +0000 More ››]]> With LFV’s first remote tower going operational, Aimée Turner examines how this advanced technology will manage to make a convincing business case for itself

Sweden’s LFV became the first air navigation service provider in the world to launch remotely operated air traffic management on April 21 from its Remote Tower Centre (RTC) in Sundsvall serving Örnsköldsvik airport over 150 km away.

The technology has been developed to meet air traffic controllers’ operational needs by Saab in close partnership with the Swedish provider which will in future offer its operational expertise as a consultancy service for Saab as it seeks to export its r-TWR concept.

The Sundsvall RTC uses multiple high-definition displays, various input devices and new air traffic controller tools that provide the same functionality as those already in use at Örnsköldsvik.

The remote product suite will now typically feature a comprehensive array of high definition cameras and pan-tilt-zoom cameras, surveillance and meteorological sensors, microphones and signal light guns at the airport.

Data from these sensors are now being sent to the Sundvall RTC to be displayed in real time, making it possible to retain air traffic services at low traffic airports such as Örnsköldsvik. So what are the prospects of remote tower technology delivering a compelling business case on a costs basis?


Here, one expert somewhat unfairly points out that Örnsköldsvik is arguably ‘the least interesting single remote tower application in the middle of nowhere’ and that in order to deliver any meaningful cost savings, the industry needs to embark on the deployment of multiple tower platforms before it can hit remote pay dirt.

Olle Sundin, director general of Swedish air navigation service provider LFV, starts our interview by outlining the provider’s domestic aspirations for remote tower technology. These centre on a plan to transition within nine months the current conventional tower operations at Sundsvall to the nearby remote tower centre.

LFV also announced earlier this year that its remote tower solution will next be delivered at Linköping airport in the south of Sweden during the last quarter of 2015 where a more complex traffic mix will include managing Saab test flight programme which will no doubt extend the operational knowledge base.

In anticipation of the obvious business case line of questioning, Sundin talks of the future uptake of remote tower technology as being driven much more by the accompanying efficiency gains it offers

“To talk of cost savings, I think this is one of the least interesting perspectives concerning remote towers. People talk about cost savings, peoples don’t necessarily talk about efficiency and that always surprises me. Of course, there will be a certain price for this service but the early perspectives on this technology have been so limited and have always centred on how we compare this kind of technical support to a conventional tower tool.”

He suspects that many air navigation service providers will be eyeing remote tower technology to deliver fall-back and contingency solutions especially at very large airports where security can be critical. “You can put a remote tower into a bunker and the only exposed element will be the cameras,” says Sundin.


For the LFV chief, the business case rationale comes very much down to who exactly is requesting the service. “I am from the airport side of the industry so it’s also very much about maintenance costs, tower investment costs rather than strictly ANS concerns which are over what kind of efficiency you gain if you feed 10-12 remote towers in to one RTC.”

“I would say that even on a one-to-one basis, remote tower technology will generate cost savings, yes, but it will give you so many additional advantages too including efficiency, flexibility and the ability to make things much much safer,” he says.

“If you approach it simply from an efficiency point of view, that alone allows a longer term perspective which will impact costs to the business as the technology offers far more possibilities to integrate the intelligence it delivers. This includes the visual imagery that can be relayed into other airport operational areas such as security.”

“As it is also a completely digitalised service it can disseminate a lot of information so the greatest gains will come from the secondary effect of remote tower technology which is more about sharing operational data in effort to deliver seamless operations,” he continues.


“If you are an airport you can put much more of your balance sheet into that cost benefit analysis. The ANSP business case is not always the most interesting one. If a country’s airport industry has the freedom to choose rather than restricted by a monopoly where both airport and air navigation service are bound to one another, there is arguably even more of an incentive.”

Conor Mullan from Think Research agrees. Think has worked on many remote tower projects in Sweden and further afield too. Mullan believes the insight it has gained through working on the concept since its early formation allows it to see a bigger picture. “We must try and raise awareness of these other drivers so that remote tower is not pigeon-holed into a box marked ‘€€€’,” says Mullan.

“We are seeing a lot of talk regarding commercial return or achieving profitability. Whilst this was the main expected benefit in early remote tower research and remains a key driver for implementation today, let’s not forget other needs that the concept is addressing particularly outside of Europe,” he says. “Some of these needs are primary requirements for which cost would otherwise be a constraint, some are requirements from which greater income may result, and some are requirements where cost – and therefore profit – is of secondary importance.”

He presents the situation of air service in very remote areas where governments are required to provide connectivity for the community. Remote tower technology here can help overcome logistical hurdles and reduce costs, with an acceptable level of loss subsidised by the authorities through public charter arrangements.


And then again, in some environments, the availability of a remote tower (e.g. for contingency at larger aerodromes or for service upgrades at smaller aerodromes) can enable greater throughput than would otherwise have been possible, and so increased revenue may result even if that was not the main objective.

In terms of LFV actually offering to operate remote tower services for other providers, Sundin’s optimism is tempered by the structural realities of the ANSP industry.

“If this was a completely deregulated market and operated in normal business to business fashion, there would be potential here but, of course, there is so much conservativism and a lot of strategic national considerations that underlie the industry,” he says.

“In terms of exporting this potential we imagine that we will act as consultant in some varying capacity for Saab products on the market – essentially a build, operate and handover concept,” he says, adding, “I wouldn’t limit myself to what LFV or Saab consider to be the product because they all have to be made tailor-made for the needs of different ANSPs.”

Sundin reckons remote towers do represent a ‘big bang’, just not a big bang in terms of LFV offering it as a operational service as monopoly and national perspectives will always come to bear and the national ANSP will invariably wants to head any future remote tower operation. “My knowledge of the market is that there is no market – it’s a limited to say the best,” he says.

In terms of further development, Sundin says a lot of product development still needs to be completed in addition to a renewed focus on how both LFV and Saab package the product. “Both will be essential in the future,” he says.

Certainly, in terms of options which seem to be emerging, the following are presenting themselves as prime operational contenders:

  • Single Remote Tower: one controller responsible for one airport from a remote location.
  • Multiple Remote Tower: one or more controllers responsible for more than one airport from a remote location
  • Contingency Tower: a separate facility to be used when an airport’s conventional tower is out of service.
  • Single Remote Tower: a large multi-runway airport that would otherwise require more than one conventional tower

In terms of a definite ramp-up of potential projects, there is plenty of interest emerging in the United States. FAA administrator Michael Huerta mentioned the subject during House testimony on March 3, noting the upcoming demonstration project of Saab technology at Leesburg, Virginia, telling Congress that ‘if the results are promising, this is something that I want to move out very aggressively on because it holds great potential to address the need [for new control towers]’.

Mullan notes that remote tower technology may not be deployed simply for financial reasons at all, but specifically for targeted safety goals, citing efforts in the United States where the Blended Airspace concept could arguably employ remote tower technology in current non-towered airports as a means to ensuring and even improving safety levels.

Air Traffic Management is here! Apply for your copy today, download the app or simply read online – and it's FREE!

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In the near term, it seems likely that several single remote tower projects will be at the vanguard. Norway’s Avinor is at the head of the pack with a decision expected in June over who will build up to 15 remote towers in a three-way contest between Indra Navia, Frequentis and Saab. This may eventually see those 15 remote towers feeding into a RTC at Bodø which already handles a reasonable level of traffic including military operations.

The question will then be on the ability of the technology house that has developed the solution to support that ramp-up on an industrial scale.Before multiple operations start to really engage, however, the deployment of contingency remote technology is expected to emerge as a second operational mode. With the technology and configuration very similar to a single tower framework, uptake by major hubs which have the motive backed by the necessary financial firepower certainly looks assured.

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Regional airports finally flexing growth muscles Tue, 19 May 2015 10:40:05 +0000 More ››]]> 2014 finally saw regional airports growing more in line with the rest of the industry – a trend which has also been confirmed since the beginning of the year.

Regional airports were hit harder by the global financial crisis and their traffic recovery has consistently lagged behind the rest of the industry – with passenger traffic up by just +13.9% since 2008 compared with an industry average of +18.1%. However, last year they registered a 5.1% growth which is continuing into 2015.

Olivier Jankovec, director general, ACI EUROPE said: “Regional airports are finally catching up with their larger peers and are now seeing more dynamic passenger growth. This is good news. But as ever, regional airports live in a world of extremes when it comes to traffic performance. For all the improvements in trading conditions, double-digit growth at many airports comes with flat or decreasing traffic at others. Competition to keep existing routes and develop new ones is fierce, with airlines dictating the terms under which they decide to operate.”

He said these developments also reflect structural changes, as airlines keep focusing on larger markets and higher frequencies in search of better yields – irrespective of their business model. In spite of lower oil prices, the number of intra-European routes operated by large full service carriers and regional airlines this summer is down by -7% and -17% respectively when compared with last year*. Even low cost airlines are no longer growing their intra-European route network and they have actually reduced their aircraft bases at regional airports by -13%.

Jankovec said: “Network development has become more concentrated and less inclusive, leaving smaller regional airports and their communities exposed to losses in connectivity. Since 2008, regional airports have seen their direct connectivity grow by just +2.3%, while the direct connectivity of hub airports has grown by +6.5%. For more than a third of regional airports, overall connectivity levels remain lower than they were in 2008.”

He added:We do not see much improvement in the short term. Beyond airline behaviour, a major issue for regional connectivity is the development of a new generation of regional aircraft able to deliver the operational cost efficiencies required for serving smaller markets profitably.”

More than ever, size dictates profitability at regional airports. 66% of airports with less 5 million passengers are loss making, with that percentage increasing to 77% for those with less than 1 million passengers.

Reductions in operating costs at regional airports are now lagging behind the industry average (-1.8% versus -4.6%), due to the inherent difficulty of achieving further cost reductions after years of sustained efforts. Meanwhile, capital costs are increasing well above the industry average, reflecting ongoing challenges in securing affordable external financing.

In that context, regional airports which are part of wider public or private airport networks are better positioned to face these economic challenges than the ones standing on their own

Airports are essential for economic growth and jobs across Europe’s regional communities. While other transport modes also play an important role for cohesion and economic development, the global outreach and speed of air connectivity is unparalleled.

This requires more supportive and targeted policies addressing the connectivity and economic sustainability challenges that these airports are facing. Thomas Langeland, chair of the Regional Airports’ Forum and director of Avinor Kristiansand Airport said: “With the European Commission preparing a new strategy for aviation, as part of its renewed focus on growth, jobs and investment, it goes without saying that the policy framework for regional airports should be improved. In particular, additional efforts are needed to develop a more tailor made approach to security and safety regulations – to avoid costly one-size-fits-all approaches.”

He added: Also, public financing should not be considered as a taboo, but rather as a way to redress structural economic disadvantage. Finally, more aviation liberalisation is the way forward, for both regional airports and larger ones. This is about our ability to diversify our traffic mix, offering convenient connections requested by our local communities and ultimately enhancing business resilience.”

* source: ERA & Innovata.

 ** every +10% in air connectivity yields +0.5% in additional GDP growth (source: InterVistas report on the Economic Impact of European Airports, released in January 2015)


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