This technology is revolutionising air traffic control
Saab’s new Integrated ATC Suite (I-ATS) platform is transforming modern air traffic control, improving controllers’ situational overview and reducing their workload. In late 2020, Helsinki Airport became the latest satisfied customer to go live.
Modern air traffic control has come a long way from the days when controllers partly relied on binoculars and the naked eye to monitor air traffic in and out of their airports.
And, as digitalisation transforms this field, Saab is in the vanguard of the key technological changes that are making air traffic control safer, more straightforward and more efficient.
The new Saab Integrated ATC Suite (I-ATS) is a case in point. It’s a next-generation solution that builds on widely deployed ATC automation products. I-ATS is a flexible and scalable digital platform that provides tower and approach controllers with a comprehensive set of tools to safely and efficiently manage traffic flow.
“All the key aspects of I-ATS have been developed in close cooperation with the end users themselves, with a primary focus placed on ease of use, improved situational awareness and reduced controller workload,” explains Per Ahl, Head of Marketing & Sales, ATM Tower Systems at Saab, and himself a former pilot with a long career in the aviation industry.
By providing air traffic controllers with a more comprehensive situational overview, the new operator interfaces reduce the workload of air traffic controllers who previously had to pay attention to a wide range of systems. The Controller Working Position consists of a configurable number of displays, some with multi-touch capability, and Saab’s Traffic Display provides the controller with a clear picture of movements on the airport surface and on approach, in full compliance with EUROCONTROL and EUROCAE regulations.
And crucially, the modularisation that is a hallmark of Saab products means that the platform is scalable, which allows the system to be expanded with additional functionality over time, including the evolution towards Digital and Remote Towers.
Helsinki Airport: a satisfied customer
Helsinki Airport began operating with the new Saab I-ATS platform in December 2020. Finland’s largest airport, which serves approximately 20 million passengers a year, has been using Saab’s systems since 2011, and two years ago decided to upgrade to the new platform.
“The functionality of the previous system used by Helsinki Airport is being retained but it has a new user interface and a more modern platform, which will allow for expanded functionality down the line,” says Per Ahl.
”The air traffic controllers are very happy with the new EFS-system at EFHK TWR. Saab has made excellent work and the co-operation between the project group (OPS-TECH) has been successful!” – Molla Peltonen, Head of System Development at ANS Finland
The testing and verification process of the new system was just getting underway as the coronavirus pandemic began escalating in spring 2020. But, thanks to close dialogue between the team at Helsinki Airport, air traffic controllers at Fintraffic and the project, the new system’s software was tested and verified remotely, while remote training of the technicians worked so well that the process will become integrated in Saab Air Traffic Management’s future training processes.
“It’s been an exciting project under different circumstances, and it required genuine international teamwork from Saab colleagues across many time zones to get everything in place together with the customer,” says Per Ahl.
“But our team has recognised major advantages in this way of working and will continue employ this approach in the future, since it saves a lot of time and facilitates direct, swift and efficient feedback from the customer during testing.”
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