ATM Modernization

Can One ATM Tower Remotely Manage Multiple Airports?

By Nick Zazulia | February 21, 2018

Multi-lateral partnership is key in working toward ATM overhaul under SESAR 2020. (Photo courtesy of Frequentis)

Testing for SESAR 2020 indicates that a single remote tower with updated displays and tools can manage multiple airports.

The simulations, which were conducted by Frequentis AG, HungaroControl, the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and Leonardo subsidiary Selex ES last November, were aimed at finding cost-effective ways to handle ATM in Europe as part of SESAR 2020 project PJ05.

The idea is that if each tower could remotely handle the air traffic of multiple airports in centralized locations, a fraction of the number of towers will be needed. Even with money spent to advance technology in those towers, the end result will still be more efficient.

For the tests, controllers at the DLR Air Traffic Validation Center in Braunschweig, Germany, were charged with controlling traffic for three Hungarian airports. They were armed with a new planning tool and stitched-screen views of relevant radar, weather and out-the-window views for all three airports.

According to Frequentis, a real-time simulation saw seven Hungarian controllers manage up to 30 movements per hour spread across the three airports.

The group considered the testing successful and said it will move onto the next phase of simulations in 2018.

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