Visit to the Thales SkyCentre - ATM Innovation Lab

Last week I visited the Thales SkyCentre - ATM Innovation Lab in Rungis, Paris.
Thales have three Innovation labs now, one in Paris, a NextGen lab in Arlington, VA. USA and CASIA (Centre for Advance Studies in ATM) in Melbourne, Australia.

The three centres inaugruated in 2009, 2010 and 2011 respectively are testament to the Thales policy of reinvesting into the industry.

During the visit we were shown many new innovative products which are in development and also implemented in the marketplace.

Such as D-TAXI - This system allows pilots to easily navigate taxiways at large airports through an display in the cockpit.

The Cockpit D-Taxi Demonstration
The Cockpit D-Taxi Demonstration

Also the TopSky Products were demonstrated.

TopSky ATM

TopSky ATM

The new innovation product that most caught my eye was the latest 'Eye-Tracking ATM concept'. This technology allows the controller to select an aircraft on the radar screen for input instructions by use of the eye. The small panel you see below the radar screen tracks the eyeball direction. Once the aircraft is selected the user can input ATC instructions to the system/aircraft through CPDLC (Controller–pilot data link communications).

I was shocked at the small amount of time it took to get used to operate this prototype system. And the potential time saving for controllers was very apparent.
Thales claim that from their investigarions with controllers in the Innovation Lab up to 50-70% time savings in controller physical inputs.

Eye Tracking Technology
Eye Tracing Technology

These products can also be seen at the Paris Air show Thales Pavillion next week.