Airports Interview with Melissa Wee (CAAS)

  • Singapore Changi Airport

Part 4 of our themed week: AVIPEO.COM had the chance to interview Melisa Wee, Deputy Head at Centre of Excellence for Air Traffic Management Programme Office at the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS).

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In November 2017, Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore announced to build a prototype of a smart digital tower at Changi Airport. What is the current status for the remote tower at Singapore Changi Airport? Do you already use the new technology?

The smart digital tower prototype is currently being built and trials are expected to be completed by end of 2019.

Who are your cooperation partners?

NATS, an UK-based air traffic management service provider, is our partner to develop the smart digital tower prototype. NATS has partnered Searidge Technologies and HungaroControl to provide a full suite of solution for CAAS. Searidge is one of the leading technology provider for smart digital towers globally and HungaroControl has been operating remote tower for Budapest Airport, a medium sized airport in Europe.

What is the project schedule for the smart digital tower?

The prototype system is expected to be ready towards the end of this year which will then allow us to commence operational evaluation of the prototype. The operational evaluation will take a year to complete.

Remote and Virtual Towers are currently a highly interesting topic. What are the advantages of the new technology from your point of view?

The smart digital tower will transform the provision of air traffic control services, delivering the following benefits:

Enhanced Situational Awareness

The large monitors in a smart digital tower will enable aircraft data tags and labelling of call signs to be better displayed for easy flight identification. With these tags, the smart digital tower will also provide additional awareness that will help controllers in decision making such monitoring of aircraft separation for closely spaced aircraft on its final approach and thus enhance safety in aerodrome operations.

Enhanced Visibility

Air traffic controllers will be able to “see” and track aircraft in various weather and light conditions. The use of data-tags increases visibility during hazy, low light or night conditions.

Improved Line of Sight

The multiple camera placements will allow visual surveillance of aerodrome areas from different perspectives which include areas with blind spots or blocked by buildings when viewed from a physical conventional control tower.

Enhanced Operational Efficiency

The smart digital tower is capable of integrating two or more control tower operations into a single integrated facility, if necessary. This will allow for more flexibility in the deployment of air traffic controllers. Air traffic controllers can be deployed as one team in the smart digital tower with the capabilities of switching between the different tower views. This will reduce the complexity of operations and enhance the coordination between multiple control towers. As the smart digital tower provides common situational awareness, it will also enhance safety.

The deployment of the latest technology could increase safety in the aviation industry. What kind of technology will you use on your RVT?

The prototype trial will include set up of multiple fixed-position cameras to feed live video images onto a large video wall. This will provide a similar view to what air traffic controllers currently see from a physical control tower. The trial will employ advanced camera and video stitching technologies, thus enabling better display of information. Air traffic controllers can use the video cameras to pan, tilt, and zoom to enable a closer look at objects and/or areas of interest.

Thank you very much for your time and this interesting interview.


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