Simulations really help

25 July 2018

“The simulations helped Naviair to understand where we are moving to - and the increase of capacity we will gain. They have also helped controllers to understand what the new concept means and see how it will impact on their working methods,” explained Peter Eriksen in a recently-released video about the multi-faceted simulation.

Naviair has been working with Copenhagen Airport to increase capacity there. They wanted to test a separation delivery tool for Time Based Separation for aircraft on final approach. The tool is part of the LORD concept - Leading Optimised Runway Delivery.

EUROCONTROL has developed different solutions and procedures that have had a positive impact on runway throughput. These were subsequently integrated into the separation delivery tool with a single HMI (Human Machine Interface).

The separation delivery tool predicts aircraft behaviour and facilitates speed management on the glide scope. It takes into account:

  • wake vortex minima
  • runway configurations
  • runway constraints
  • approach procedures flown
  • meteorological conditions.

Naviair and Copenhagen Airport chose our Experimental Centre to evaluate this tool in combination with Performance Based Navigation procedures.

The simulation and the simulators

To prepare this real-time simulation, we replicated the Copenhagen terminal airspace, the surfaces of the airport, the runways and taxiways.

We replicated the controllers’ working position for arrivals, departures and the tower position.

Then, we replicated Copenhagen terminal airspace and all the runways and taxiways at the airport. The next step was to engineer several traffic samples. After that, we modified the traffic so as to put pressure on the runway and have a more challenging sequence of different aircraft types landing.

The simulation’s ultimate aim was to show controllers how they could have a user-friendly way of delivering safe reduced separation, irrespective of runway configuration, prevailing winds or any other constraint.

Real-time simulations have shown that the separation delivery tool, combined with RECAT, can lead to a 5 to 10% increase in runway throughput.

This simulation was a complex one. Two approach positions for arriving and departing traffic, as well as final approach, were built into the ESCAPE simulator.

ESCAPE can be configured for specific HMI requirements. The platform can handle:

  • from one up to 64 controller positions;
  • up to 600 aircraft flying simultaneously;
  • up to 1,000 flight plans;
  • from 1 to 70 pseudo-pilot positions.

The tower simulator, eDEP, was also used with arrival and departure positions.

The eDEP platform is a simplified ATC system simulator, based on Java and fully web-enabled.

eDEP has the same functional components and conceptual data flows as the ESCAPE real-time simulator. So, eDEP functional prototyping can be easily translated into software requirements for future simulations.

Finally, the 3D cockpit simulator was used to test the Performance Based Navigation procedures, with the help of a Scandinavian Airlines pilot.

Tools used in the simulators include:

  • AudioLAN, a voice communication system
  • MUDPIE, the Multiple User Data Processing Interactive Environment analysis tool.

We configured these components to reproduce the controllers’ working environments as closely as possible – down to details such as screen colours and mouse positions – so as to minimise the simulation’s impact on the validation result.

To see the simulators in action, take a 360° virtual tour of the centre!

The verdict

As a result of the simulation, Copenhagen Airport and Naviair have decided to implement the LORD concept in 2020/2021.

Not only did the simulations show that this would be a realistic move with benefits, it also increased controller understanding. Another bonus is, as Peter Eriksen pointed out: “A number of air traffic services use EUROCONTROL and being there helped us to harmonise our approach with other countries in Europe.”

A win-win!

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