Air traffic control services to continue for Canadian communities

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NAV CANADA, which provides air traffic control, airport advisory services, weather briefings and aeronautical information services for more than 18 million sq. km of Canadian domestic and oceanic airspace, has confirmed that it will maintain air traffic control service to Canadian communities, including Fort McMurray AB (pictured), Prince George BC, Regina SK, Saint-Jean QC, Sault Ste. Marie ON, Whitehorse YT and Windsor ON.

In an effort to streamline its operations and ensure its air navigation services align with market demand, NAV CANADA, launched 29 aeronautical studies last Autumn and subsequently has elected to limit changes to services across the country. In addition NAV CANADA has committed that there will no site closures at air traffic control towers or flight service stations across the country, however the company will suspend aeronautical studies currently underway related to remote or northern locations until further notice.

“Stakeholder engagement is at the heart of NAV CANADA’s aeronautical study process. The valuable input we have received indicates that a balanced approach is warranted as the industry navigates the ongoing pandemic. We are proactively taking these steps to maintain a consistent level of service as the aviation industry and our many partners shift their focus to recovery,” said Ray Bohn, President and CEO.

The aeronautical studies, which are still in progress, will consider other alternatives to safely streamline operations, including changes to hours of operation. Aeronautical studies that were related to hours of operation from the outset or that are related to Remote Aerodrome Advisory Services will also continues, except for those pertaining to remote or northern locations.

NAV CANADA’s Aeronautical Studies consider all relevant factors, including traffic volume, mix and distribution throughout the day; weather; airport and airspace configuration; surface activity; and the efficiency requirements of operators using the service. Formal consultation with stakeholders is central to all Aeronautical Studies.

Estonian Air Navigation Services collaborates with Frequentis on Estonian U-space

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Estonian Air Navigation Services (EANS) is collaborating with Frequentis to accelerate the rollout of Estonian U-space (unmanned airspace) and allow drones to coexist in shared airspace with civil aviation, by integrating air traffic management (ATM) and unmanned traffic management (UTM) on the same platform.

Hosted in the Frequentis cloud environment, the project delivers a pre-operational system, to allow use cases and business cases to be defined, verified and trialed. In addition the experience Frequentis gained from previous projects, including the SESAR Gulf of Finland (GOF) U-space trials in 2019, has allowed the system to be adapted to the needs of EANS.

“The use of drone-based services is increasing constantly and drone traffic volume in urban air space is one of the biggest challenges we face,” said Jaanus Jakimenko, Head of CNS Department and Member of the EANS Management Board. “To cope with future demand and to continue providing safe airspace operations, we must ensure that all airspace users are aware of each other. It is crucial to have an efficient unmanned traffic management (UTM) system in place that also interacts with manned aircraft operations,” he continued.

He added that the 2019GOF project, which focused on ATM/ UTM integration testing the U-space concept of operations in seven advanced drone trials, provided EANS with the knowledge to quickly support the use of drones for emergency services during the 2020 COVID-19 lockdowns. “It has also given us the needed assurance of Frequentis technological capabilities and knowledge of their experienced team. We are looking forward to enhancing our airspace operations in line with the growth of drone usage.”

The cloud-based system is provided as a managed service in the Frequentis cloud environment, allowing validation of use cases and business cases as well as UTM/ UAS trials. Furthermore, the cloud architecture enables a fully optimised deployment process, without the need for on-site activities. The current solution will enable EANS to move forward with realising Estonian U-space concept of operations and start implementing technological solutions to provide drones with safe and secure access to the airspace.

“The Frequentis platform allows drone operators to see airspace restrictions and flight rules, file flight plans, and receive updates from air traffic controllers in real time, supporting ANSPs with their goals for increased drone services to support their future tech economy,” said Guenter Graf, VP Frequentis New Business Development.

Aerospace leaders collaborate on vision for future skies

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Following the first ever meeting of the Complete Air Traffic (CATS) System Global Council last week, industry leaders from across the aviation and aerospace industries are creating a blueprint for safely integrating all airspace users into future skies.

Initiated by the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO) last December, the Global Council is an independent forum, which unites airports, airlines, air navigation service providers (ANSPs), UTM service providers, aircraft manufacturers, drone operators and manufacturers, space agencies, high-tech companies and regulatory authorities with the goal of building a vision for the skies together.

“Until now, each of us has been working on our agenda,” said Simon Hocquard, Director General, CANSO. “ANSPs have been focused on an air traffic management vision of the future, drone operators have been concerned with unmanned traffic management, and space explorers have their vision for space flight.” What was missing, he said, was “an aligned vision for total traffic management.”

CATS Global Council aims to change this by transforming how all airborne vehicles are accommodated safely, efficiently and sustainably.

“How do we march into the future? How do we capitalise on the big and exciting opportunities in front of us?” asked Richard Parker, CEO, Altitude Angel.

Margaret Nagle, Head of Policy and Government Affairs responded saying: “What we’re doing hasn’t been done before, so we don’t have all the answers and that”s OK. This Council is a great opportunity for us to learn from one another and focus on the problems we need to solve today while creating a future framework that will enable innovation,”

Meanwhile, Jean Ferre, General Manager and Vice-President Airspace Mobility Solutions at Thales commented, “With this Council we have a unique opportunity to come together as a key driving force of the aviation ecosystem, take ownership and propose an agenda of radical change.”

Avinor Air Navigation Services chooses Thales to enhance Norwegian airspace

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Avinor Air Navigation Services has appointed Thales to supply their new Safety Nets Server to support Norwegian air traffic controllers and contribute to maintaining the highest levels of safety in Norwegian airspace.

The technology will be deployed at Oslo, Stavanger and Bodo Air Traffic Control (ATC) centres and will be fully integrated into a fully virtualised environment. It will guarantee earlier conflict detection and a lower nuisance alert rate than other safety nets solutions. Thales system will help Avinor Air Navigation Services’s controllers keeping the Norway skies safe as well as to support Avinor Air Navigation Services in the work on climate and environmental challenges within aviation for reducing greenhouse gas emission. As part of the agreement Thales will provide long-term maintenance and support services for at least five years.

“Thales is proud to partner with Avinor Air Navigation Services and aspires to their vision for the future of air traffic management in Europe,” said Jean Ferré, VP Airspace Mobility Solutions Activities, Thales. He added that, “this contract adds to Thales’ already existing credentials as leader in the provision of air traffic management systems in Europe and shows Thales’ edge in delivering components perfectly integrated into the actual and the future ATC system and virtualised ATM solutions.”

With its unique multi-hypothesis algorithm, Thales’ solution is an enabler for airspace efficiency improvements and increased demand for air travel in the coming decades. Developed under stringent safety and security requirements, TopSky – Safety Nets fully conforms to EUROCONTROL safety nets specifications. Avinor Air Navigation Services joins more than 40 ANSPs across the globe that have already chosen TopSky – Safety Nets for their ATC centres.

Frequentis acquires parts of ATM product segment from L3Harris Technologies

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The communication and information solutions provider for safety-critical applications, Frequentis, has agreed to acquire the air traffic management (ATM) voice communications and arrival management product business from US company L3Harris Technologies.

The acquisition, costing $20.1 million, comprises the acquisition of: the ATM voice communication systems produce line of L3Harris; the Harris air traffic control (ATC) Solutions business unit of Harris Canada Systems; as well as 100% of the shares in Harris C4i Pty and Harris Orthogon GmbH.

Australian-based C4i will complement the Frequentis ATM defence portfolio by its high secure interoperable communications solutions for mission-critical environments. Meanwhile Frequentis will continue to market German-based Orthogon’s leading products for traffic synchronisation for ATC en-route, approach and airport ATC centres, including them in their offering for digital towers and centres. And by acquiring the Harris ATC Solutions business unit of Harris Canada Systems, Frequentis will expand its technical solutions and add an even wider range of solutions to its already extensive portfolio.

The two companies have also entered into cooperation agreements, under which Frequentis as an L3Harris’ technology partner will provide voice communication products for use in L3Harris’ large-scale solutions and services business.

“Even in the currently challenging times we are committed to advance and to continuously innovate,” said Norbert Haslacher, CEO of Frequentis, commenting on how the acquisition will enable his company to grow its global customer base.

“Traffic optimisation is crucial, even and above all, in times of low traffic. It is our commitment to an efficient and environmentally sustainable air traffic management environment, driven by digitalisation and automation.” He added, “This acquisition, as well as the strong cooperation agreed with L3Harris is perfectly in line with our corporate strategy and achieves a key step in the evolution of Frequentis as a global supplier of mission critical solutions.”

Airports Authority of India enhances airspace with Aireon System

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Aireon’s space-based ADS-B air traffic surveillance system is now in use across Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata’s oceanic airspace. Having signed a contract with Aireon 18 months ago, Airports Authority of India (AAI) is making significant strides towards enhancing safety and efficiency across their ever-growing, highly trafficked area.

With a vast airspace of more than 9 million square kilometres, the deployment of space-based ADS-B provides an additional layer of surveillance, backing up AAI’s existing ground-based network. Improved communications and data sharing between Asia, the Middle East and Europe is also a main objective aimed at reducing delays and improving the flying experience for all users.

“The collaboration and determination to complete the implementation testing remotely by both the AAI and Aireon teams have set the region up for a successful 2021,” said Vineet Gulati, Board Member, Air Navigation Services, AAI. “Despite the challenges that came because of the ongoing global pandemic, AAI was able to continue testing to prepare our airspace to go live with Aireon’s safety-of-life service. When travel picks up again, AAI will be ready to support the rapid increase of aircraft in a cohesive and efficient manner.”

Prior to the roll out of the Aireon system, aircaft had to fly at uneconomical levels due to the high-traffic and many conflict points at crossing paths, burning extra fuel and resulting in additional expenses for airlines. Now, with more accurate position reporting available throughout the entire region, aircraft are more likely to get preferred flight levels and route changes, alleviating the prior issues.

Don Thoma, Aireon’s CEO, commented that “Deploying real-time air traffic surveillance is an initiative that has driven AAI to be a leader not only in the region, but throughout the world.” He added that AAI’s determination to “prepare for future air travel and improve safety to match their robust traffic growth is the innovative thinking that is propelling the aviation industry forward.”

Micro Nav partners with Maldives Airports Company

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Maldives Airports Company Ltd (MACL) has awarded a contract to Micro Nav to supply a 240° five-channel monitor based 3D tower and radar simulator to the MACL Aviation Institute.

The contract was secured following a public tender. According to Micro Nav, which specialises in Air Traffic Control simulators, it provided the most commercially and technically compliant bid. Delivery of it’s tower and radar simulator will be completed in a 10-week turnaround which includes a two-week training course to support MACL in using the simulator. Training is expected to commence in early spring.

MACL will predominantly use the simulator to deliver ATC training to a high standard and in compliance with ICAO requirements, as well as for validation of new operational procedures.

MACL has committed to a long-term support package, benefitting from Micro Nav’s support offering, with software upgrades, priority support and access to the company’s simulation experts.

Micro Nav shortlisted for 2020 ATM awards

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Micro Nav, which specialises in the development, production and support of simulation and training systems for air traffic control (ATC) and airport operations, has been shortlisted for the air traffic management (ATM) awards in the category of Enabling Technology.

With global restrictions on air traffic impacting air navigation service providers (ANSPs), airports and training establishments, Micro Nav developed an extension to its existing BEST (Beginning to End for Simulation and Training) ATC simulation platform, making it accessible to its worldwide customer base from anywhere at any time via the cloud.

With the continued drop in air traffic putting a huge financial strain on ANSPs, Micro Nav offered its technology for free to CANSO’s ANSP members, enabling them to access the capabilities of radar and tower simulation. By providing access to ATC simulation via the Cloud, training can take place from anywhere at any time. Micro Nav’s technology also enables organisations to re-introduce or continue enhanced safety critical training, including training for abnormal and emergency situations and ‘importantly’ training at pre-COVID traffic levels. For ANSPs, it has provided a solution to return to much needed and valued training. In some cases it has offered an opportunity to access simulation for training for the first time. Controllers are able to maintain their core skills with busy traffic situations, to refresh their skills, and to regain the confidence of managing higher traffic loads safely as air traffic levels slowly increase.

The winners of the ATM awards will be announced at a virtual award session due to take place at the end of February.

Plans outlined to drive modernisation and digitalisation of European ATM

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To effectively coordinate the modernisation of Europe’s air traffic management (ATM) system in the coming years leading airspace users, airports, air navigation service providers (ANSPs) and the EUROCONTROL Network Manager have formed a partnership and jointly released a set of high-level principles.

With ANSPs fully committed to the delivery of the Digital European Sky, Janusz Janiszewski, CEO PANSA commented on how this equal partnership represents the successful vehicle to making this a reality. “The leadership and inclusive approach for stakeholders in all phases of the ATM lifecycle is key to achieve the Single European Sky objectives.”

Thanks to the wealth of operational and institutional expertise possessed by the members engaged in the partnership, it is perfectly placed to provide decisive and clear added value to ATM stakeholders and the European aviation system.

The COVID-19 pandemic has massively impacted European ATM and the only way for European ATM to ‘build back better’ from the pandemic is by working together. The Partnership of operational stakeholders and the EUROCONTROL Network Manager is hugely important in this regard; an alliance of equals with unparalleled expertise and experience that can really get things done and deploy an effective, cost-efficient, scalable and environmentally sustainable European ATM infrastructure for the future.

Eamonn Brennan, Director General EUROCONTROL.

The principles outlined as a result of the collaboration include: Building and making use of an unprecedented pool of civil and military ATM expertise; Simplifying processes and expanding perspectives beyond EU boundaries to support stakeholders across the whole European network; Combining a performance-based and passenger-centric approach with the network perspective; Focusing resolutely on the environmental performance of ATM to support the European ‘Green Deal’; Delivering the highest level of buy-in from all involved stakeholders; Widening the scope to all major deployment and infrastructure initiatives requiring synchronisation at pan-European level; Establishing a closer link between the technology innovation cycle and ATM operations addressing the most urgent priorities and operational needs; Defragment deployment and coordinating investments through a reinforced programme management approach; And creating a ‘virtuous cycle’ to link and de-risk all phases of the ATM lifecycle through close cooperation with the SESAR Joint Undertaking.

Commenting on behalf of European airports, Olivier Jankovec, Director General of Airports Council International (ACI) Europe said: “Being fully involved and part of the deployment of SESAR is a must for ACI Europe. This is about pursuing our agenda for a closer integration between airport operations and Air Traffic Management, which is instrumental for ensuring a greener, more passenger-centric and more efficient air transport system.” He added that the industry trade body is, “delighted to be part of this new industry partnership together with EUROCONTROL Network Manager” and is looking forward to, “leveraging the SESAR programme to build back better.”

Nice Airport A-CDM

Nice Airport A-CDM system receives EUROCONTROL approval

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Nice Airport A-CDM

Nice Côte d’Azur Airport in France has credited the expertise and collaboration of teams from RESA and ATRiCS with getting its A-CDM (airport collaborative decision making) system approved by EUROCONTROL in record time.

“This approval marks the end of an intense, exciting period of work during which our suppliers tackled a host of challenges. We now have a comprehensive, stable, reliable and scalable solution for optimising all our operations,” said Franck Goldnadel, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Aéroports de la Côte d’Azur. “In concrete terms, it will enable us to cut taxiing and queuing times at runways, which in turn will cut greenhouse gas emissions for both those flight phases. More generally speaking, the A-CDM system reasserts our firm place at the heart of European airspace and the future of air travel, which will be all about combining economic and environmental performance,” he added.

The airport’s INFOPAX AODB (Airport Operational Data Base) system had already been up and running for several years. The tool centralises, processes and shares information required to manage the airport’s flights and related resources (aircraft parking, boarding gates, check-in desks). RESA has now upgraded the system by integrating A-CDM. This was achieved by developing an interface that communicates continuously with the ATRiCS solution in order to send data that is essential for CDM.

As a result of this upgrade all ground operations can be scheduled smoothly, from the moment the aircraft arrives until it departs again, with the goal of predicting its take-off time as accurately as possible. The A-CDM approval also marks a new era for a data exchange solution that RESA has already been running for several years with EUROCONTROL. The first level involved setting up a connection with the CFMU – in other words, one-way receipt of messages containing flight data from EUROCONTROL. The second, known as advanced ATC Tower, added a function enabling the airport to send messages to EUROCONTROL about target take-off times. The third level, Full A-CDM, includes an information exchange portal for all airport partners: ATC, the airport operator, ground handlers and airlines.

Commenting on how the RESA A-CDM system has made Nice the fourth French airport to obtain EUROCONTROL approval, Florian Reischek, RESA Product Director, said: “The synergy between teams from RESA, Nice Airport and ATRiCS was an incredible driver for all the people involved in this project… We are extremely proud of this and would like to extend our sincere thanks to everyone who took part.”

ATRiCS, meanwhile, worked on the development and implementation of an automated tool called Collaborative Pre-Departure Sequencing System. This system brings together all the data provided by the INFOPAX AODB system, its purpose being to continuously plan and calculate flight take-off times based on various local and European constraints (runway capacity, congestion in the skies etc). Ultimately this has provided those responsible for managing air traffic with better means of predicting and anticipating flights.

Having set up the Advanced ACT-Tower developed by RESA in December 2016, then implemented Full A-CDM in November 2019, Nice Airport obtained EUROCONTROL approval in September 2020. The project was co-funded by the European Union, the Direction des Services de la Navigation aérienne (France’s air traffic control agency, the DSNA) and Nice Côte d’Azur Airport.

For more on how A-CDM can bring significant network benefits to regional airports make sure you’ve subscribed to receive the next issue of Regional Gateway magazine.