The future of Air Traffic Control is mobile

Saab

Having air traffic controllers sitting near airports in order to land planes is now history. Thanks to Saab and inUse, air traffic control can go mobile. Remote air traffic control streamlines the work and has the potential to change the aviation industry forever.

Air traffic control towers in Sweden house a lot of equipment that helps air traffic controllers guide planes. The problem is that often a lot of this technology must be custom built when it is time for an update. That’s why it is now successively being replaced with more flexible solutions based on touch screens instead of complicated controls and complex specialized user interfaces.

The objective was to create a more modern system without putting security at risk at a time when air traffic is on the rise.

TESTED IN A SIMULATION SYSTEM

Together with air traffic controllers and developers from Saab, inUse worked on finding out which interfaces work. Then, in an iterative process, we developed prototypes for a design concept, which we then conducted user testing on and refined after multiple rounds of alterations.

The first prototypes were drawn up on paper, later to be replaced by more advanced, interactive prototypes. Most of the prototypes were Flash applications on a touch screen to make them as realistic as possible. Everything was later tested in Saab Security System’s simulation system.

COMPLETELY NEW PRODUCT

inUse’s work on Remote Tower has provided air traffic controllers with a better working environment and a more customized, ergonomic daily working life. Plus the Remote Tower makes it possible to provide air traffic control remotely, meaning that a plane landing in Skellefteå can be guided by an air traffic controller sitting 1,000 kilometers away.

This development can change the entire industry. With Remote Tower, small airports can always be staffed without needing a physical air traffic tower directly nearby. Important flights, for example those transporting patients, can quickly get up in the air without having to wait for an air traffic controller to be called in.

The system for remote air traffic control received an industry award for the most innovative solution. The award was handed out at ATG Global, a fair aimed at the aviation industry, in Amsterdam.