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Remote Tower for Multiple Airports

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - PJ05 Remote Tower (Remote Tower for Multiple Airports)

Reporting period: 2019-01-01 to 2019-11-30

Providing air traffic control (ATC) for aerodromes is a high quality and safety critical job. It needs Air Traffic Controllers and solid minimal functional equipment resulting in high fixed costs to provide the service. Other costs e.g. for maintenance of systems and old tower buildings also need to be considered resulting a critical cost benefit case for small to medium sized aerodromes. For example in rural regions where the airport is an important part of the infrastructure (often high speed trains are impossible due to low population numbers or geographical reasons) it is hardly possible to increase the turnover, the challenge is to reduce cost in order to keep these airports and to keep the regions flourishing for both businesses and people.

The Remote Tower concept has a possibility to tackle several of the challenges for airports across Europe. The concept is changing the possibility to provide a more service tailored and dynamic provision of Air Traffic Services (ATS). The concept relies on cost efficient optical camera solutions, whose video images are relayed to a remote facility, situated anywhere, to be displayed on a video presentation in order to enable the provision of ATS from that remote facility. The concept can host several aerodromes connected to the remote location enabling a Remote Tower Centre. The concept can be optionally extended by advanced automated meteorological observations utilizing camera solutions as well.

SESAR 2020 and PJ.05 had as main goal the further development the Multiple Remote Tower Concept and an efficient Remote Tower Centre. This was made through validations where one controller from a Multiple Remote Tower Module controled up to three aerodromes. A flexible allocation of aerodromes between controllers and Multiple Remote Tower Modules increased the efficiency within the Remote Tower Centre.

“Single” remote tower solutions have already been deployed through the predecessor SESAR 1 projects, but more significant impacts in flexibility and cost-efficiency are to be expected with “multiple” remote control out of a remote tower centre that was only partly covered so far. PJ05 brought the multiple/centre concept to higher maturity levels. PJ.05 has several contributing European organisations from ANSPs, industries, research institutes and other stakeholders to best provide their competence to exploit and disseminate the results. The variety of partners and validation activities within PJ05 helped to reflect the variety of operational needs and technical solutions, which in the end of the project helped to consolidate them into a broadly reflected SESAR2020 PJ05 solution available for European airports. The complete work was structured in a collaborative way throughout all work packages and ensured the transfer of knowledge and know-how in between all SESAR2020 projects.
PJ05 enlarged the scope of the multiple remote tower solutions to enable “multiple” control in more complex traffic and environmental situations, for two or three simultaneously controlled aerodromes, to further increase cost efficiency and job satisfaction. Special attention was laid on improved HMI design, planning support and workload balancing by a flexible allocation of aerodromes to a Multiple Remote Tower Module (MRTM). In the end, PJ05 brought the multiple/centre concept to higher maturity levels:
• Solution PJ.05-02 Multiple Remote Tower Module (V1 → V3)
• Solution PJ.05-03 RTC with Flexible Allocation of Aerodromes to MRTMs (V1 → V2)
• Solution PJ.05-05 Advanced Automated MET System (TRL2 → TRL4)
The two operational solutions dealt with the objective for enlarging the scope of multiple remote tower services. Solution PJ.05-02 reached a V3 maturity level at the end of this project, solution PJ.05-03 as planned a V2 maturity level, whereas V3 level is to be reached at the end of next R&D phase. Technological solution PJ.05-05 focused on enhanced automatic provision of MET and reached TRL4 maturity level.
To achieve these results over the project run-time, concept and requirements were elaborated with suppliers and operational experts and fixed in the OSED and TS reports. The respective validations exercises for the operational solutions were prototyped and designed as real-time simulations, which made it possible to stress different hazards and technical degradation without any risk compared to active mode trials, to have repeatable traffic scenarios and test subjects actively providing control to measure situation awareness and workload and assess acceptance to test the feasibility of the concept and its adapted procedures.
The real-time simulations were supplemented with one shadow mode exercise to investigate technical feasibility related to the visual relay and presentation of three aerodromes.
Trials were performed at different locations based on different prototypes in order to address and complement the different validation objectives. Overall workshops on solution level with ATCOs from all validation exercises were used as add-on debriefings to get more consolidated operational feedback to the validation reports, in particular for the Safety and Human Performance report in part II and part IV.
The results will have a positive socio-economic impact refer to the overall objectives of PJ05: Maintaining ATS at small airports is often crucial to keep rural and remote regions vivid and attractive for people to inhabit. It also allows local industry to grow through continued operations within the regional economic network. SESAR research program PJ05 went beyond SESAR1 validated concept of Remote Tower by reducing cost in a significant manner through multiple remote towers operations. In addition, ATS safety will be enhanced through state-of-the-art technologies such as augmented visual presentations increasing controller situational awareness under adverse conditions and also through advanced automated meteorological observations.
"ATCO working ""multiple"" controlling 3 aerodromes simultaneously"