NATS and Searidge announce digital tower research laboratory

NATS and Searidge announce digital tower research laboratory

06 March 2018
  • New facility to validate technology to improve safety and operational efficiency

NATS and Searidge Technologies are to launch a UK-based digital tower research and development programme designed to improve efficiency, weather resilience and contingency operations at the world’s busiest airports.

The programme will centre on a brand-new state-of-the-art digital tower research laboratory located at Heathrow Airport control tower.

The system will comprise of two controller positions with a newly developed, highly intuitive user interface and, for the first time ever in a digital tower, 4K day/night cameras. These, together with independent pan-tilt-zoom cameras, will be used to present a totally seamless panoramic view of the airport and surrounding airspace on an ultra-high definition video wall.

“Establishing a NATS and Searidge development laboratory here in the UK, and specifically at Heathrow, means we can benefit from using all of real-time operational data as part of our work,” says Andy Taylor, NATS Head of Customer Solutions.

“And by partnering with Heathrow Airport Limited, we can focus on developing digital solutions that address very specific problems, such as working in low visibility conditions or contingency operations.”

Distributed cameras around the airport will provide enhanced surveillance of hold lines to improve resilience in adverse weather conditions, while data from the airport’s Advanced Surface Movement Guidance and Control System will be integrated with the Searidge system to offer controllers enhanced situational awareness via customised data overlays.

NATS and Searidge hope this partnership approach, which will allow NATS controllers to rapidly evaluate each new development, will accelerate the availability of technology that can then be deployed to airports like Heathrow all over world.

“We have made great progress since the signing of our partnership with NATS last year,” adds Alex Sauriol, CTO, Searidge Technologies. “We have brought together the best of both companies to create a digital tower platform and ecosystem that offers customers a complete end‐to‐end solution. We look forward to showcasing our capabilities in the UK market, starting with this exciting new facility at Heathrow.”

NATS purchased 50% interest in the Canadian-based Searidge Technologies in May 2017 and was then awarded the Singapore SMART tower contract in November, but this collaboration represents the first joint digital tower system development in the UK since the formation of the partnership.

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