Airport News

Airport News

South Africa’s air traffic controllers can now train at a faster pace and in a ‘real world’ environment, with the installation and commissioning of a state-of-the-art 3D simulator developed by Airways NZ.

The Total Control simulator, which gives a full 360° view of the airfield, is one of the only ATC simulators in the world that imitates a full air traffic control flight information region, complete with real-world traffic scenarios – and can simulate any weather conditions.

The Airways 3D simulator developed for South Africa’s Air Traffic and Navigation Services (ATNS) is the first to be installed and commissioned outside of New Zealand, and is a significant milestone for the New Zealand air navigation services provider after years of research, development and investment into the solution.

Airways Research and Product Development Manager Mark Griffin says the commissioning of a Total Control simulator for ATNS is significant for a number of reasons.

“ATNS can now use Total Control to enhance the quality and speed of ATC training, at a time when the industry is under increased pressure to train enough air traffic controllers to meet demand. ATNS trainees can be trained to an advanced level in a real world environment, and significantly reduce their on-the-job training time,” Mr Griffin says.

“We’re proud to have Airways technology and expertise now installed in a region expected to become a huge aviation market in the future,” he adds.

The multi-million dollar ATNS contract included the design of the simulator, provision of software adaptation and training.

The installation of Total Control for ATNS went smoothly, Mr Griffin says. The main system was installed in October 2011, developed to simulate their base training environment, and Tambo Airport in Johannesburg. In April this year a second simulated South African control tower was added to the base training environment.

Mr Griffin will travel to South Africa in early August to mark the completion of the installation and commissioning phase of the project. The project will then move into a maintenance phase. 

Flexible, dynamic system

The Total Control simulator for ATNS was developed to allow training instructors, once fully trained, to add further simulated airport environments to the system on their own and quickly and easily create their own scenarios.

The system allows simultaneous use of parallel and cross-runway, with near field military operations, and includes both tower and radar simulation.

“Most other ATC simulators only model around the terrain that’s actually visible from the tower, but with Total Control we can model the entire terrain of a country’s airspace – so it actually lets ATC trainees control in a realistic environment,” Mr Griffin says.

Another key point of difference for Total Control is its ability to simulate all types of weather conditions, through four-dimensional modelling of New Zealand microclimates.

Realistic training environment with advanced 3D graphics

Airways worked with New Zealand-based computer graphics experts Animation Research Ltd to build the graphics for the simulator.

“The 3D graphics deliver an experience for the trainee as close to the real thing as possible. Even sun-strike and raindrops on the cab windows are replicated with incredible realism,” Mr Griffin says.

Feedback from trainees using Total Control has been overwhelmingly positive, he adds.

“It’s a total immersion experience for trainees, in a highly realistic simulated environment that’s unlike anything most of them have experienced before.”

Airways’ world-class training taking off globally

Installing Total Control offshore helps to cement Airways’ reputation as a world-class provider of air traffic services training, Mr Griffin says. It is also the beginning of further collaboration between the two ANSPs – Airways and ATNS have recently signed an MOU increasing cooperation between the two organisations, covering training, billing and technical services.

“The Total Control simulator is a cornerstone of Airways’ training business, and after a successful installation in South Africa, we’re now focused on developing further markets and opportunities for the solution globally,” Mr Griffin says.