A new year, new show and a new location. ATM Magazine meet with many long-time colleagues and established many new relationships to culminate an overall new experience at Airspace World. Over the next few days there will be more detailed stories from the show, but let’s kick off the coverage with an overview of meetings on day one.

The first meeting of the show was with Adacel, where we got an update on a live deployment of the MaxSim ATC Tower Simulator at Broward College. They have created a cloud-based ATC training solution with virtual and mixed reality technology to allow for distance learning that includes local, ground, and supervisor positions plus remote pseudo pilot capability.  Currently ATC is a 12-16 week training program and the College is interested in developing a four-year program. In Europe, students can receive a four-year degree in air traffic control. The FAA prioritises hiring of students from air traffic collegiate training institutes (AT-CTI). This would help Broward College to be more attractive to students who desire a four-year program.

We also discussed their recent announcement regarding their recent site acceptance test for Aurora ATM in the Seychelles. The project introduces surveillance through ADS-B on the ground and space-based ADS-B from Aireon. Adacel began with oceanic solutions and is known as a specialist in this area.

Next we moved onto drones with a first meeting with the Skypuzzler co-founders, winners of the Shaping the Future Skies ATM Award. Although they are still in startup mode they are already making strides working with Unifly in a strategic partnership. They provide ATC for drones using software algorithms to provide deconfliction for drones. Their module can integrate into UTM solutions (such as Unifly's) as a white label product to provide a comprehensive UTM including drone deconfliction. To date, they have conducted live deconfliction trials at Copenhagen University. Although this was in a closed environment without wind or weather challenges, it’s still an important first step toward trials in an open environment. I wondered about the concept behind their name. They told me they are planning to solve the ‘puzzle in the sky’. Sounds like something we need to do to ensure safe drone flights.

Drones continued to be the topic with a visit to Rohde & Schwarz, but from a different perspective. Leveraging drone-based inspection they showcased a drone-optimised antenna which is light (1.5kg) and waterproof. The drone-based analyser was announced during the show. Some of the improvements of using drones for inspection purposes are reduction of time and cost. Consider that drone-based measurements can accomplish a task in 10 minutes that it currently takes 2 hours to do with ground-based measurements. Using a drone instead of a car can also reduce the cost of conducting measurements in the range of a 60,000 euro savings. These are some impressive figures.

Additionally, the Mobile ATC Radar System or M.A.R.S. was presented. Originally announced in November, 2022, the M.A.R.S. shelter includes a complete CERTIUM radio system, a unique 24 volt on-board battery system that enables the shelter to operate without power for three hours. Its lightweight enough to be deployed by helicopter. Therefore, it’s fully self-sustaining during this time. They worked together with Skyguide to develop the concept and the Swiss ANSP has taken delivery of the first one.

ATM Magazine had the pleasure of moderating a panel during day one of the event with the topic of "resilient infrastructure to deliver an integrated airspace for the future". It was great to hear lessons learned related to virtual centres in support of resiliency from opposite sides of the globe with Klaus Meier, CTO, Skyguide and Katie Wilkinson, General Manager Air Traffic Services, Airways New Zealand. Anne Stephan, Vice President Critical Infrastructure & Networks, Rohde & Schwarz shared her vision for the role of technology ahead to ensure resilience and Connor Mullan, Managing Director, Think Research considered the trends his organisation is seeing globally on this topic.

Day one ended with the ATM Awards presentation in the CANSO stand. Congratulations to all of the winners and thanks to all of the participants for their amazing submissions, it was a tough year for the judges to narrow it down to the final decisions.