( Bournemouth, Dorset - 8 May 2006 ) The advanced BEST 3D tower simulator produced by Micro Nav Ltd was unveiled to the media by NATS at Heathrow Airport today.
With demand for air travel continuing to increase at Heathrow, the world’s busiest international airport NATS, the UK’s leading air traffic management provider, is preparing for the future with the introduction of the latest 360º 3D air traffic control simulator.
The cutting edge technology has been developed to support the move, in winter 2006/7, of the Heathrow tower controllers from their existing home to the new £50m tower where they will handle up to 100 flights per hour.
Commenting on the introduction of the facility, Martyn Jeffery, General Manager of NATS Heathrow said, “The new simulator will enable NATS controllers and operations staff to prepare safely for the move to the new control tower next year. The existing tower is too small to meet with the future requirements of this busy airport. The move to our new home will deliver both capacity and service improvements and will provide an air traffic control platform for decades to come.”
Over 50 NATS air traffic controllers are preparing for the move to the new tower and are receiving extensive training to familiarise themselves with the new view, operational procedures and equipment. The £1.5M simulator, supplied by Micro Nav Ltd UK, facilitates the training programme helping to ensure that the move is safe and seamless. It almost exactly replicates the view, equipment and layout of the new tower cab and will enable controllers to practise in a realistic environment.
Tom Howard-Jones, the New Business Director of Micro Nav said “We are proud to be the prime contractor for this important British advance. Our team with BARCO, Evans & Sutherland and NATS themselves has completed a demanding, fast-track project on time and to budget. This is the latest in our line of successful BEST projects with NATS that includes radar simulators for the College and London ACC and 2D tower, ground and radar simulators for Heathrow Airport. We are looking forward to working with NATS as they benefit from this latest design and to evolving it further, both for them and for the wider Air Traffic Control community.”
Micro Nav have provided all the ATC simulation and training software in the form of their BEST simulator together with the project management and system integration.
BARCO have designed and supplied the visual display system. It has a 10m diameter cylindrical screen with ten Sim-6 Ultra projectors. Their digital control facility gives full edge-matching and blending with colour and brightness balancing.
Evans and Sutherland have supplied their new EP-10 3D visual image generation software and computers. They have also created the 3D visual models of Heathrow airport, the aircraft, vehicles and special effects.
NATS have provided much of the simulator infrastructure including the special tower desks.
The simulator will be used for training - and for testing new concepts and equipment. It will cover all of the changes scheduled for Heathrow including: the new tower; terminal 5; the facilities for the A380 and all of the new ATC equipment and procedures.
Different models and databases will be used so that different towers as well as different airports can be simulated. The simulator will be used for many tasks at Heathrow; followed by the other London airports and even international airports.
Micro Nav have added stimulation interfaces and customised emulations to BEST so that the new systems being introduced at Heathrow can be used in training with high fidelity. These include: the electronic flight strip system; the lighting control panel; ground movement display and approach monitoring system. Simulator ground traffic automation and pseudo-pilot facilities have also been enhanced to meet the operational needs of the current and new Heathrow airport.
The simulation covers: day; night and dusk; reduced visibility; a wide range of weather conditions with rain, fog and snow; emergencies and unusual situations. The eye point can be jumped into different working locations as well as into aircraft and ground vehicles. Integrated area, approach, tower and ground operations can be trained and evaluated. Powerful data preparation tools allow NATS to cover different aircraft performance capabilities, traffic levels and operating conditions with full recording and replay capabilities.