In the civil domain, remote virtual tower (RVT) solutions have already been tested and put into operation at airports around the world, safely managing instrument flight rules (IFR) and visual flight rules (VFR) operations from remote locations. But there is even greater potential to add value in military scenarios.
By replacing the “out-of-the-window” view with a visualisation system at a remote site, situational awareness is not only increased with enhanced visibility, but military air traffic control (milATC) staff are no longer in harm’s way as they can conduct their duties safely from a remote location.
The United States Department of Defense (DoD) has selected RVT technology from Frequentis to support the Air Force and other DoD agencies. The project will include two fixed-base RVT systems and two deployable systems.
Ed Wright, Executive Director, USAF Flight Standards Agency noted the reasons for the decision stating: “The evaluation team chose Frequentis’ remote tower solution based on the company’s global organisation and support structure in airspace management and communications. By enabling the provision of milATC services on demand and remotely, RVT will reduce the risk to controllers and infrastructure, while reducing capital investments and allowing for the optimization of our resources,”
The ability to remotely control air traffic is what makes the RVT concept so well-suited to military use cases. It allows military ANSPs to deploy towers that provide enhanced efficiency, visibility and cost-effectiveness compared to mobile towers. Mission-proven sensors guarantee the operational readiness of a remote air base or deployed ATC operation even in harsh environments. RVT can also be implemented extremely quickly.
Whether military forces are participating in combat operations or providing humanitarian relief after natural disasters, the success of their missions can hinge on access to reliable, responsive ATS.
Mark Robinson, Head of ATM Frequentis Australasia added: “Beyond the benefits of protecting controllers from harm and ensuring ATS, the RVT concept also gives military ANSPs the opportunity to gain enhanced shared situational awareness – provided they are equipped with the right tools. Extension possibilities include drone detection, surveillance sensors, asset tracking, airbase protection and surveillance fusion.”
All ATC operations demand accurate air situation picture and high-quality data. Traditional ATC towers are at risk of limited visibility during adverse weather conditions and in a military situation this risk is further amplified. During a military operation that needs sufficient air power, many aircraft may need to arrive or leave an area within the same short time-frame, putting considerable strain on limited ATC resources.
The emergence of drone technology poses another challenge and threat to future military operations so by integrating drone detection into RVT airbase and flight security can also be strengthened.
By enabling users to provide ATC services on demand and remotely, RVTs can reduce the risk to personnel, help avoid capital investments and optimise the allocation of resources. By being equipped with improved shared situational awareness – as well as object detection and tracking – military personnel can approach missions with greater confidence.
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VIDEO – Germany’s DFS has selected Frequentis remote virtual tower technology.
Frequentis is an international supplier of communication and information systems for control centres with safety-critical tasks. Its information solutions leverage more than 70 years of cross-industry experience in civil aviation, defence, public safety, maritime and public transportation markets; the company has built upon its initial control centre voice communications focus to develop deep expertise in these five areas of core competence. The company has driven innovation throughout its history with many ‘industry firsts’. This will continue as the industry evolves, with a focus on user-centric design that considers the controller in all it does. Frequentis Remote Virtual Tower solutions are tested and used at airports with complex ATC operations, safely managing IFR and VFR operations from remote locations. Advanced video processing with machine intelligence such as deep learning and artificial intelligence make airports of any size smarter.
Frequentis will be exhibiting at Avalon Airshow, Geelong, Victoria, Feb 26-28 2019, stand 2A14.