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AD4 — Result In Brief

Project ID: 12328
Funded under: FP6-AEROSPACE
Country: Italy

Reinventing air traffic control

More visual three-dimensional and safer air traffic control systems may be directing our aircraft in the near future, thanks to new 3D immersive technology.
Reinventing air traffic control
Air traffic over the world has increased steadily and so has the challenge of managing it. The model for Air Traffic Management (ATM) hasn't changed much in the last 30 years, even though many new technologies have been developed in this area.

The EU-funded project '4D virtual airspace management system' (AD4) studied how to integrate 3D technology to replace the classical 2D one that ATM uses. Team members set out to upgrade an existing 3D virtual reality system called D3 (Dcube) that visually represents and manipulates data in real-time, both in open space and at airport level. Data manipulation can be accomplished using auto-stereoscopic displays and 3D mouse devices.

Project partners designed the technology with experts in ATM systems and virtual reality developers using data from a real traffic centre. These activities highlighted the benefits that 3D representation can offer over 2D technology to air traffic controllers, including increased efficiency and safety. The system was also designed to allow the control and monitoring of more aircraft over a wider airspace. Such a 3D environment can immerse the controller in a particular region, showing a large number of aircraft and routes in real time more clearly. It can allow the traffic controller to reroute flight paths interactively as data is updated on the spot.

The technology has undergone many tests and simulations, quite possibly opening the door to the next generation of ATM. If exploitation of the design goes well, aircraft controllers will see a much more advanced and robust ATM system in the near future.

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