The next generation of air traffic control systems will be “virtual” in that they will have a virtual air interface, the Air Traffic Control Association (ATSCA) has announced.
The move is designed to improve the air traffic management process, particularly when it comes to managing aircraft movements.
In the past, the main air traffic controllers and air traffic operations management (ATM) personnel had to interact with a computerised network to manage aircraft movements, which was time-consuming and slow.
The ATSCA’s new approach will allow for the virtualisation of aircraft movements in real time.
The aim is to ensure that the controllers have more time to plan and control aircraft movements and that there is no downtime between the times when the controllers are in the air.
The new approach to air traffic controls is a significant step forward for the industry and has been heralded by aviation experts and privacy advocates alike.
However, the ATSCA has been criticised for not taking a broader view on the issue.
The FAA has been pushing for the FAA to introduce a virtualized system for the past three years, and the ATCA said it was “not convinced” that the FAA would adopt the virtualized approach.
The Virtualization of Aircraft Movement, which is now in the final stages of testing, is an FAA proposal that is likely to be adopted by the FAA as soon as this year.
The virtualized air interface would allow the controllers to use a “virtual terminal” to communicate with each other and other aircraft, allowing for faster, more efficient and secure operation.
ATCAs new approach would allow for virtualisation, but the technology will be used to “maintain” the air interface and will not be used in the production of airframes.
The aircrafts virtualisation will be controlled using a “digital signal processing system”, which will have the ability to “receive, process and transmit data from aircraft systems, as well as to receive and process data from other air traffic data centres”.
This system will also provide a virtual access point for the controllers, enabling them to communicate in real-time with other aircraft systems.
The Air Traffic System will allow the “virtual access point” to be “assigned to the primary aircraft”.
The “primary aircraft” is the one which controls the aircraft and is “typically the aircraft of the flight plan”.
The ATCACA has not yet released details of how the AAS will be connected to the virtual interface, but it is likely that the controller will be able to “de-select” the “primary” aircraft to be used for the purposes of the virtual operation.
“This virtual terminal will allow aircraft operations to be performed from the air system itself, allowing a much faster, safer and more efficient operation of aircraft,” said ATSACA Chairman and CEO Steve Wiltse in a statement.
“AAS will enable an aircraft operator to seamlessly and securely manage and control its own aircraft and air systems while operating in real space.”
In the meantime, the FAA has announced that it will require that all FAA-licensed air traffic controller positions be filled by the end of 2021, and that those positions must be filled with the highest qualifications possible.