With the introduction of the Remote Virtual Tower operational concept, the need for flexible and collaborative communication solutions arises. Moving away from rigid structures, the coordination needs for remote towers demand a flexible use of radio and telephone resources. Breaking up the silo, the new open concept of voice communication services integrates perfectly with the surrounding tower application landscape.
New technology enablers, who are set to cut costs of ATM and boost efficiency, are getting ready for deployment. Currently we are witnessing an evolution towards a more flexible use of shared ATM service. This leads to the concept of virtual centres. Moving away from rigid centre and tower structures, demands set by more efficient use of controller resources and flexibilisation of airspace use are some of the main drivers of future operations.
An excellent use case around virtual centre operation is the Remote Virtual Tower operation. The focus of remote and contingency tower concepts has been on visualisation solutions, but there is much more to a working concept of operation than replacing out-of-tower window view with visual surveillance solutions. Only by successfully merging the classic triad of communication, navigation, and surveillance from different remote tower sites across an ATM-grade communication network into a Remote Virtual Tower operation centre, the true cost-saving and efficiency benefits will be unleashed and operational and regulatory acceptance can be achieved. Matching the capabilities of the tower applications and communication equipment with the new use cases of remote operation is the key enabler for successful deployment of remote towers and virtual centres.
At a remote tower control centre, controllers are co-located to operate various airports simultaneously, dynamically shifting resources according to the prevailing air traffic. With remote tower voice communication services being fully integrated into the controllers workflow on the HMI, validated SESAR concepts are introduced to the benefit of operations. By separating the control room user interface from the technical infrastructure, voice communication is offered as a service to remote tower controllers irrespective of their location using an ATM-grade network. With this cloud-like setup, redundancy and contingency come built-in to the architecture for the Virtual Centre, as controllers can use the service from anywhere, and the service can run in any technical centre.