Exploring the application of digital tower technology in the Middle-East’s gateway to the world
Operational safety and service continuity are paramount to air navigation service delivery, especially for Dubai Air Navigation Services (dans) who manages air navigation services at Dubai International Airport (DXB) and Dubai World Central (DWC) – contributors to the Dubai economy and the largest aviation hub in the Middle-East. With such a critical socio-economic dependence on the operations of these airports, dans was charged with building a contingency capability to manage disruption risk and maintain the highest level of service continuity. However, building an adequate redundancy for air traffic service delivery at such a complex operation, and without compromise to operational performance was a challenging task.
Dans engaged a delivery consortium led by Independent Business Group (IBG) to undertake a study into the application of advanced video surveillance technology to bolster operational resilience at DXB and DWC; HungaroControl was enlisted by IBG to support this study with its acknowledged expertise in digitalising tower operations.
Critical to any successful ATM / CNS technology deployment is defining suitable options through a systems approach to ensure solutions are strategically sustainable, and not just ‘band-aid fixes’. The foundation of this definition was the creation of a detailed Concept of Operations which was premised on assessing the relocation of aerodrome contingency services to a remote location. It tested the feasibility of a range of surveillance build options to enhance existing contingency capabilities at DXB and DWC under dans’ established service continuity criteria. This defined concept was further elaborated into operational requirements to enforce traceability between needs and solution options.
A formative step in validating and refining future concepts is a first-hand exposure to technology in operation. As part of the study, hosted workshops with dans and the General Civil Aviation Authority were held at HungaroControl’s digital tower in Budapest to bring the ‘user’ to the frontline of advanced video surveillance capabilities onsite.
Concept artefacts alone do not translate into action without an understanding of economic and operational trade-offs and a tangible blueprint for decision-making. Supporting the concept development and requirements definition, the delivery consortium developed a business case that examined options for the upgrade of existing contingency facilities, deployment of mobile towers and implementation of a digital tower.
Under the IBG-led delivery consortium, HungaroControl brought its experience in digitalising tower operations in high-complexity environments and at scale to support concept nd business case development. Primarily, the deliverables of the study supported the decision to enhance dans’ Emergency Visual Control Room (EVCR) with advanced video surveillance technology at DXB to reach 100% contingency capability using the technology. More importantly, the deliverables provided dans with a strong foundation for future digital tower planning and implementation activities at both DXB and DWC, building a future pathway for a smoother digital transformation journey at this major aviation hub. The benefits identified were:
- Lifts contingency operational capability from 60% to 100%
- Enhanced visibility in adverse weather
- Improved situational awareness
- Improved visual tracking of objects
- Improved surveillance (low visibility and night) leading to improved safety
- Enriched data for incident investigation
- Integration of information into working positions
- Lower cost solution for DXB and optional contingency functionality for DWC potential for improved productivity
- Lower cost platform for training