Remote Tower Narsim

NLR and their SESAR consortium partner Air Traffic Control the Netherlands (LVNL) have successfully completed a series of simulation exercises using the NLR ATC Research Simulator (NARSIM) in a special configuration for the LVNL Remote Tower Centre located at Schiphol. Activities were carried out for the simulation of Remote Tower Operations at Groningen Airport Eelde and Maastricht Aachen Airport. The simulations are part of the Remote Tower Large Scale Demonstration project, which is co-funded by the SESAR Joint Undertaking, and consists of several activities aimed at demonstrating the provision of air traffic control (ATC) tower services from a distant, remote location.

When remote tower operations are carried out, ATC services are no longer provided from a regular ATC control tower, but from a remote location that potentially could be very far away from the airport. Such an operation requires different kinds of sensors, information flows and systems, such as video images, radar, flight plan information and radio-telephony. The SESAR demonstrations for remote tower operations focus on small to medium size airports. Consortium partners in Germany (DFS) and Sweden (LFV) will particularly look at the Single Remote Tower concept, where one control position remotely operates a single airport. The Netherlands (LVNL, NLR and other consortium partners and subcontractors) will additionally test Multiple Remote Tower operations. This means that one control position will remotely operate more than one airport. The demonstrations will have to investigate whether such an operation can be carried out safely and efficiently.

The NARSIM simulations of remote tower operations were carried out in preparation of trials with live traffic. Groningen Airport Eelde and Maastricht Aachen Airport were simulated in both Single Remote Tower and Multiple Remote Tower operating conditions in May and June 2016. The aim of these simulations was to familiarize controllers with the new situation regarding systems, working position and the available camera images as well as the additional functionality provided to a remote tower working position by a pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) camera.

The PTZ camera allows for projection of a picture-in-picture image on top of the 360-degree outside view. With this additional camera, the image can be zoomed in on an aircraft or even be linked to an aircraft position in order to monitor aircraft movements.

In order to configure NARSIM for the special conditions of the LVNL Remote Tower Centre, several new systems and functionalities had to be developed. One of the outstanding features was a touchscreen control panel for semi-automatic operation of the PTZ camera. Technical challenges included running two simultaneous NARSIM simulations in parallel on one PC, including the necessary applications and the radio-telephony system, a limited number of pseudo-pilot positions, and the 360-degrees outside view system which had to be projected on 18 HD displays using only two PCs.

The successful completion of the NARSIM simulation steps is expected to enable the project group to further prepare the live trials. These trials will be carried out in the second half of 2016. Live traffic at Groningen Airport Eelde will be controlled from the remote tower working position at the LVNL Remote Tower Centre at Schiphol. Video images will be provided by cameras from Swedish system manufacturer Saab. For demonstration of the Multiple Remote Tower operation, the live system will be complemented by a system for Maastricht Aachen Airport which is simulated on NARSIM. Aircraft movements in the simulated system will be carried out by so-called pseudo-pilots.

Final results of the demonstration activities should be available at the end of 2016 which coincides with the end of the SESAR Programme.






For more information: Jürgen Teutsch (