ATC in the Clouds – literally

Everything is moving to Cloud. Most industries have fully migrated to Cloud supported functionality or at least have a good percentage of their information sharing activities supported in this way. There is one industry that this really has not taken hold in, the air navigation service provider (ANSP) world. The question is – when is the time right to start this migration and what functionality it could impact in order to retain all safety-critical priorities.

ATM recently had the opportunity to speak with Air Navigation Solutions (ANSL) about this topic. The organization is transitioning from a purely ANSP role to a commercial services provider to other ANSPs. The company was established five years ago, as a result of DFS winning the contract to provide Gatwick’s air traffic control (ATC) function. They created the UK-based entity to support this contract as a local ANSP. The program went live in 2016 and Edinburgh airport was also added to the contract. There is an academy in Langen, Germany to provide training for air traffic controllers to enter these roles. And about 12 months ago, they created the commercial services function.

ANSP commercial services

Airports that provide their own ATC support face a big disruption if they decide to outsource. But sourcing new air traffic controllers (ATCOs) can be a challenge. This is where ANSL is first playing a role. With its ATCO subscription scheme, they are able to address the following topics for ANSPs needing assistance:

  • Academy produces trained ATCOs
  • On the job training, deployment for two years into a small unit and then take them into a larger role and keep growing
  • ATCOs remain ANS employees, reducing the labor costs for the ANSP
  • ATCOs have the opportunity to move around to different locations to continually learn new things, having a better career path for growth
  • Airports have seen this as an opportunity to get new recruits, as they will always have resources, don’t have to worry about training and don’t have to work through open vacancies while looking for a new candidate
  • ANSP signs up for a number of full-time equivalents (FTEs) and the length of support.

Today’s problem is about filling gaps in staffing, maybe in the future ANSPs will be open to considering the entire staff be provided by ANSL.

ASAP service

Recently, ANSL has launched its ATM Services for Airports Package (ASAP), which contains a range of cost-effective solutions designed to help airports manage and recover from the effects of COVID-19. When air traffic levels recover in the coming months, airports will need qualified ATCOs to enable them to quickly re-establish air traffic management operations. The ANSL ASAP provides solutions to help airports achieve this, thereby ensuring their ATM operations are future-proofed.  Learn more about this solution in our recent article about this launch.

ATM on Demand

Consider the possibility of ATM-on-demand solutions to provide electronic flight strips (EFS) or voice communication services (VCS) from the Cloud.  A ‘Netflix style’ subscription service could support many of the smaller airports who can’t manage the cost to upgrade their current solutions on their own.  Check out the upcoming Issue 2 of Air Traffic Management, available the first week of June for a story dedicated to this topic.

In the future there will be more services directly for airports based on their needs.  Intelligence is a key component of where this could go.  The ability to measure how a service is performing, helps airports understand how they are performing.  The ability to analyse data from a single data source across multiple airports.  Say for example EFS performance.  And then following on that path the ability to analyse multiple data sources from multiple airports.  This can help airports to prepare for future situations based on actual historical situations.