Moving from conventional to virtual ATM

13 November 2018

Bolívar León, Air Navigation Director, Dominican Institute of Civil Aviation (IDAC), considers the opportunities and challenges associated with remote and digital towers and ATM grade networks.

We congratulate CANSO for organising the CANSO Latin America and Caribbean Conference 2018 last week. Delegates included organizations and entities providing air navigation services (ANS) in the region, and we were pleased to have the opportunity to be part of discussions on topics of great relevance and interest to the ANSP community – including digital and remote towers and ATM-grade networks.

The digital and remote towers and ATM-grade networks workshop, hosted and sponsored by Frequentis during the conference, demonstrated how this innovative technology is transforming the operational environment of the aerodrome control service, from a conventional environment to a completely virtual environment, as real as the first. As an ANSP responsible for managing a geographically challenging area of the Latin America and Caribbean region, we can certainly see the benefits of this and were very interested to understand more.

While remote operations can help to increase cost-efficiency and effective operations, this modern system also brings significant challenges that ANSPs must carefully consider in terms of human factors. The pilots, who might not perceive differences in services, could doubt if the air traffic controller is really watching the operation from the control tower, a facility they are accustomed to visualising from the cockpit, and if they are still a reference as a prominent object at the aerodrome during the approach or as an icon that shows that they have indeed reached their destination. Such new technology will therefore undoubtedly change the landscape and way we are accustomed to seeing the control towers and airports, and importantly require new approaches and understanding of modern ATM operations.

From our point of view, it may take a while for the full implementation of this new way of providing services, meanwhile, we see that many of the tools that come with this new technology could also be implemented in support of traditional services. Monitoring the airport and looking out for runway excursions were some of the issues leading the industry to create this new concept, and using these tools in the current environment, as a form of gradual transition, especially in those airports that are more congested, is an excellent proposal. Undoubtedly, the new technologies that are already being implemented will take us to another level of service, a new era that augurs extraordinary challenges for the control of air traffic.

The Dominican Institute of Civil Aviation (IDAC) is committed to the development and growth of air navigation in the region, so we will be attentive to the evolution and advance of these new technologies, with the purpose of contributing to their implementation and encouraging our ANSP partners in the region to consider the same.

To find out more about the CANSO Latin America and Caribbean Conference 2018 sessions, please visit the event page.

Latin America and Caribbean

About the author

Bolívar León Air Navigation Director, Dominican Institute of Civil Aviation (IDAC)

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