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Resilient Synthetic Vision for Advanced Control Tower Air Navigation Service Provision

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - RETINA (Resilient Synthetic Vision for Advanced Control Tower Air Navigation Service Provision)

Reporting period: 2017-03-01 to 2017-08-31

The increasing interest in Synthetic Vision (SV) and Augmented Reality (AR) technologies has led various analysts to positively esteem the adoption of new tools enabling pilots and controllers to seamlessly operate under Visual Meteorological Conditions and Instrument Meteorological Conditions. The RETINA project will investigate the potential and applicability of SV tools and Virtual/Augmented Reality (V/AR) display techniques for the Air Traffic Control (ATC) service provision by the airport control tower. Within the project, several concepts and basic principles that have been observed in different areas (e.g. Remote Tower, Synthetic Vision Systems, AR, Information Technologies, etc.) will be brought to the level of maturity required for the Applied Research that will be conducted in SESAR V1-V3 (Applied Research, Industrial Research & Validation). To this end, a 3D airport model will be developed, along with V/AR based human-computer interfaces. The digital model will provide controllers with precise positioning for both aerial and terrestrial objects, drawing information from multiple, simulated, data sources, such as the System Wide Information Management (SWIM) network, Remote Towers sensing technologies and other well-established surveillance systems – e.g. Airport Surveillance Radar (ASR) and the Surface Movement Radar (SMR). The interface design will be based on the Ecological Interface Design approach. Finally, the project will investigate the impact of the newly conceived tools on the control tower air traffic management procedures. On the whole, those tasks that are negatively affected by poor visibility conditions, such as bad weather, fog, smoke, dust or any other kind of environmental occlusion, will become weather-independent. The RETINA project primarily relates to SESAR ER-06-2015 - High Performing Airport Operations - Improved Visualisation and Awareness, but also has a secondary relationship to SESAR ER-03-2015 - Information Management in ATM.
The present report covers the first 18 months of activities performed by the RETINA Consortium in the following Work Packages: WP1, WP2, WP3, WP4, WP5, WP6 and WP7.
WP1 sets up the baseline for the other WP, identifying the state of the art in terms of displays technologies, data sources and standards. The work performed was dedicated to the analysis of the relevant state of art and the production of initial concept requirements together with a task analysis for low and normal visibility conditions.
WP2 aims at generating the actual concepts for the RETINA project describing: which V/AR display technologies should be used; how they should integrate in the control tower environment and procedures; what kind of datasets should be used to visually represented the relevant information and where they come from. To meet these objectives, all the sensing technologies and data provision standards were analysed, then the V/AR technologies that can be applied in a control tower were selected. Finally it was defined when, why and how the controllers will make use of augmented visual observation in order to manage the aerodrome traffic.
WP3 aims to develop proofs of concept for the proposed solutions. The 4D airport model was developed and it was integrated with two interconnected software systems. Also, this WP sets up the basis for the experiment that will be carried on in WP4.
WP4 evaluates the operational solutions proposed by WP3 through a specific set of human-in-the-loop experiments campaign performed in a laboratory setting. To this purpose the first edition of the Validation Plan (VALP) was produced and approved by the Consortium members.
The main objective for WP5 is to create a public and scientific interest on RETINA outcomes and ensuring their commercial usability. In this context, partners have defined a shared a dissemination and exploitation plan, in order to broadcast step-by-step results and to make the technical and scientific panorama aware of project developments. In the third semester the consortium aimed at enhancing the public and scientific interest on the RETINA concept by presenting the RETINA concept in two events, namely the World ATM Congress (Automation Workshop) and Le Bourget Air Show.
The overall objective of WP6, as indicated in the DOA, is the smooth implementation of the RETINA project. To this aim, an effort was put in the first semester to define a shared Project Management Plan and facilitate its practical implementation. This resulted in a punctual and harmonized accomplishment of the project objectives set for the first eighteen months of the project. The foreseen risks did not materialize and the whole consortium has met periodically by webex and four times by face. The Intermediate Review was successfully passed in April 2017.
A specific Work Package (WP7) dedicated to Ethics Requirement has been added to the RETINA Project during the negotiation phase and 6 ethics deliverables have been produced by the Consortium during the first semester. During the second semester, the deliverables were updated according to the request of the JU and finally approved.
The proposed solutions will provide high-quality 4D information (position, height and speed over time) to concerned actors in any operational condition (traffic, weather, airport complexity, etc.), thus improving the overall controllers’ situational awareness.
Significant benefits are expected for the whole aviation system, including, but not limited to:
financial savings for carriers and ANSP, improved safety for passengers, environmental pollution reduction, and increased resilience and efficacy for the control tower IT systems.
The proposed solution will allow Secondary Surveillance Radar (SSR) equipped aircraft to operate at synthetic vision equipped airports thus improving the overall air traffic system capacity and, indirectly, alleviating congestion on nearby airports. Complex airports will benefit from the implementation of such technology by preserving airport capacity level in all weather conditions, even when Low Visibility Procedures apply.
This will result in substantial financial savings for carriers and larger incomes for ANSP. Also, with fewer delay, a reduction of the environmental impact of flights in terms of fuel burnt, emissions, CO2, etc. will be achieved.
All in all, whatever the airport complexity is, RETINA will design technological and operational concepts for the use of AR and SV in a manned control tower facility, identifying relevant issues, such as inadequate procedures or standardisation, and proposing solutions.
The RETINA project will also exploit the SWIM concept allowing for a cost effective standardisation and better re-use of data sets and services between the control tower IT systems. With no need for duplicates, significant savings for all ANSP will be achieved.