More Efficient Trainings for Air Traffic Control Professionals with the Help of New Technologies

21 June 2019 devTalks

Training air traffic control experts (ATC) is a domain that belongs to the public safety industry where adoption of latest technologies proves to be the right choice for getting better risks reduction. Adopting mobile, cloud, speech recognition and artificial intelligence technologies in the process of training the air traffic controllers, makes it much more accessible in terms of technical equipment and, of course, affordable.

The public safety industry, despite its huge dependency on technology, is one of the latest adopters of the latest technological advancements, given its need to use the most reliable and mature technology available. This principle can easily be seen in the usage of analogous communications despite 5G being deployed in commercial and civil environments.

Current Air Traffic Simulators, used as the foundation of ATC experts training, are complex systems that replicate voice communications, RADAR consoles, meteorological information systems, runway lights controls, surface movement radar consoles and, of course, a 3D replica of the out of control tower view. All these conditions have a huge impact on the costs of ATC training infrastructures, making it a premium facility, and not all ANSP (air navigation service providers) may afford it. This requires multiple ATC to get trained in simulators abroad and have this experience as a premium, rather than an accessible infrastructure they could use at any point in their career.

ATC simulators need to replicate 100% operational systems’ functionality, but do not need to use 100% the same technology as an operational system. We have developed a platform that maps 100% operational functionality, but relies on a set of latest/advanced technologies as a foundation that brings new horizons to the ATC training options.

The first layer of the new technologic foundation is an entire new scenario engine that includes complex management and rendering capabilities, has multiple interoperability end points and allows diverse scenario management.

The second layer build on top of the foundation is the presentation layer that has been abstracted and made mobile first. This allows the deployment of the simulator on less complex hardware such as commercially available tablets. All components of the simulator are now running on tablets, making the ATC Simulator accessible in general mobile app stores and on affordable devices.

The third layer of new technologies used in the simulator platform is comprised by three of the latest technologies: voice recognition as support of the input options, Augmented Reality to deliver immersive experiences, and respectively Artificial Intelligence engines used to learn ATC behaviour during crisis scenarios.

Introduction of new technologies in the rigid industry of public safety generates an impressive set of advantages in regards to ATC training options.

The first advantage comes from the new business model that is enabled by the availability of the training and simulation platform on mobile devices. The heavy and complex infrastructures are no longer required to test your ATC abilities and to run complex emergency scenarios. All can be now done from your tablet using an app downloaded from your traditional app store. This builds a new business model, ATC training as a service, and the availability of it increases dramatically, adding to the pool of ANSP customers (two-three hundred), the large pool of ATC (300-400 K worldwide) that can procure the platform directly.

Adding a new perception dimension to the training process is just as important: using augmented reality for the traditional 2D space of RADAR consoles. Now, given the AR capabilities of recent tablets on the market, we are able to deliver Augmented Reality regarding the evaluation process of a particular ATC exercise.

Another innovation added to the platform is its shared cloud infrastructure. While in the traditional model, each training centre would be able to use just its own training scenarios, now, using cloud technologies, multiple training centres can openly share their scenarios and approach to solve them, so collaboration gets a new definition among ATC specialists, and latest techniques to ATC are now being published faster for a global audience.

This work is part of the project Innovative informatic instrument for the training and testing of Air Traffic Controllers, developed by SC Sim Soft Distribution SRL company.

This project is co-financed through the European Regional Development Fund – Priority Axis 2 – “Information and communication technology for a more competitive digital economy” by the Operational Programme “Innovations and Competitiveness” 2014-2020.

The contents of this material do not necessarily represent the official position of the European Union or of the Romanian Government.