Getting digital tower solutions approved by different global authorities and setting the solutions up demands innovative and technical excellence. With more than five years of experience in running technical digital tower solutions in live operations, Saab is able to offer the support that is needed to set up a digital tower solution and keep it running. The company can assist with every step of the process, including operational, technical, and business case analysis and implementation, as well as training and organisation change management.

Saab has spent thousands of hours developing, establishing, and running digital towers, making it an expert in digital air traffic solutions. The company can integrate its products into any existing projects for a seamless air traffic control (ATC) business transformation.

Digital tower solutions for airports

Saab’s digital tower provides a next-generation solution that uses Saab’s video processing, visual presentation, and automation solutions. Benefitting from scalable and flexible architecture, the digital tower can be configured to suit a variety of cases that may require different visual configurations and camera presentations.

Graphic overlays, on-screen data presentation (such as MET data), and surveillance label correction all help to provide improved visual situational awareness, which helps to increase safety. In addition, digital tower technology has been proven to be reliable and suitable for use in all weather conditions due to Saab’s environmental protection design.

Moving from conventional airport tower technology to digital towers helps to drive change and provides many advantages, including:

  • Increased operational efficiency
  • Increased productivity through centralisation
  • Enhanced safety
  • Increased flexibility
  • Reduced maintenance requirements and enhanced system support functions
  • New ways of working for air traffic control officers (ATCO), technicians, and managers
  • Ability to keep up with digital evolutions in air traffic management (ATM)
  • New business models and services

A digital tower is comprised of two parts: on-airport equipment and a control facility. On-airport equipment can be placed at a local airport or across multiple remote airports. This equipment can be customised to suit different cases, providing additional flexibility. For example, on-airport equipment can include signal light guns, sound sensors, environmentally protected camera houses, or panoramic cameras, depending on the clients’ specifications.

The control facility is also highly customisable and is able to meet any specific requirements. A control facility typically consists of a digital tower centre (DTC) that is comprised of several digital tower modules (DTMs). The DTC controls one or more airports individually or simultaneously. Another important part of the control facility is the visual presentation (VP), which provides a complete view of the surrounding area. This, combined with graphic overlays, video and pan, tilt, and zoom (PTZ) tracking, and radar labels, means that the facility helps to enhance users’ situational awareness.

In a digital tower centre, personnel handling different towers are gathered in one site, increasing flexibility and providing 24-hour availability. Having staff located together also streamlines training and maintenance, and allows for easier operational analysis, environmental monitoring, and system analysis and integration. It also allows staff to work together and support each other, which results in improved safety procedures and more efficient tools.

Flexible air traffic solutions

Saab’s digital solutions offer greater flexibility, enhanced security, and reduced costs for all airports. The company offers both single and multiple runway solutions, as well as remote operation centre solutions, and special deployable solutions. This makes Saab’s solutions suitable for airports of any size, allowing large airports to expand and small airports to remain open.

Saab’s range of digital tower capabilities also includes:

  • Surface moment radar (SMR) and multilateration integrated towers
  • Advanced surface movement guidance and control systems (A-SMCGS) and electronic flight strips (E-STRIP)
  • Security and resource management
  • Integrated communications
  • Ramp control
  • Vehicle management
  • Digital aerodromes
  • Surface and departure management
  • Collaborative decision making (A-CDM)

For larger airports, automation tools from Saab can be integrated into the digital tower. Features such as electronic flight strips or ground/air traffic displays help to support the full scope of tower provisions, including A-SMGCS capabilities. The Saab digital tower can also be integrated with the Aerobahn CDM suite from Saab, providing ramp or apron towers with a complete set of apron management tools.

Using the same core technology from the TactiCall solutions, the Tacticall voice communication system (VCS) can also be combined with digital tower solutions to provide air traffic controllers with an effective and reliable communication interface.

Digital ATM is becoming increasingly important and will evolve into distributed situational awareness, facilitated by new technology. Saab is the ideal partner for the exciting ATC business transformation journey that is currently taking place. The company also works with the SESAR program and Working Group 100 as an active contributor to the development of the remote tower industry.

The first remotely controlled airports in the world were developed and brought into operation by Saab and LFV in April 2015. They were approved by the Swedish Transport Agency and met the same regulations as conventional ATC systems. Since then, Saab’s solutions have been tested in a range of environments and are installed in airports across the world.