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How does one manage 4 million flights a year through 11% of the world’s airspace? Geoff Ross from Airservices Australia sheds some light about air traffic control rooms including the Integrated Tower Automation Suite (INTAS) project.
Tell us a little about the INTAS Project?
The delivery of services to the aviation industry by Airservices Australia is, in part, provided at 28 locations by controllers located in a control tower. Over time this inventory has aged and the industry has developed an increasing need for the integration of technologies and the management of data. The upgrading of the infrastructure and technology began in around 2009. The technology being introduced into the tower environment is known as the Integrated Tower Automation Suite – or INTAS for short. This system, as suggested in the acronym, interfaces with the many systems located either at the airport or remotely and integrates the data to create both the information display and data distribution needs required to provide the control service. The system provides display of the data utilising touch screen technology and is based on business rules that ensure the data provided is timely and meaningful. It also provides us greater safety alerting and decision support along with being the digital backbone to integrate with existing and future systems as part of an industry wide movement to a greater sharing and integrated use of data.
Your project involves four new build control rooms and upgrading and transforming existing functional control rooms. No doubt building a new control room within an existing operational control room presents many unique challenges. What suggestions do you have for other organisations looking at upgrading a control room facility?
We have completed the first tranche of towers as part of the new build phase. The ability to transition utilising a greenfield site, while having its own complications and issues, is significantly less problematic than attempting changes in a critical service delivery environment where, in most instances, the service is 24 / 7 / 365.
Significant safety assessment, human factor study and regular liaison with local staff, airport owners and other stakeholders is critical to the planning process. Also, close and co-operative relations with the contractor are important so they understand and can relate to the issues of working within such an environment and understand the need for flexibility.
The planning should also be done with the guiding principle that the time in the Ops room should be kept to an absolute minimum, so any works that can be done outside of the environment should be done so and the various stages of the transition clearly identified so operations are able to cater for the upcoming works.
What elements have been integrated to allow for future upgrades and modifications?
The aviation industry, while being constantly conscious of safety, is a dynamic environment where the capability of technology is driving the improvements in efficiency, performance and safety. For this to continue, the sharing of real time data becomes more of a requirement. INTAS and other systems being implemented are providing the capability to smoothly interface and integrate as necessary, to provide the data to continue with the safety, productivity and performance needs the industry demands. Where possible the systems are created using formats and protocols that are common such that the interfacing between the systems is less complicated.
Geoff will be bringing his 20+ years of experience to the fore at the 3rd Annual Control Room Design & Operations Conference to be held on the 4-5 March at the Rydges Melbourne.