For universities, training academies or air navigation service providers (ANSPs), it is often complicated to access high-performance air traffic control (ATC) simulation platforms without having to wait for weeks or months before simulators are available. Some ANSPs simply do not have simulators on site with which they can train their ATC officers, who must attend courses at training centres that are equipped with sophisticated platforms and managed by highly skilled personnel. SkySoft-ATM may have found the solution.

A portable air traffic control simulator developed by SkySoft-ATM is filling the gap between fast-time simulations that are purely based on mathematical algorithms and large, real-time simulations, allowing a large number of controllers to interact and assess, for example, the operational impact of a new procedure design.

Test the limit

SkySoft-ATM and ROSE have been in the business of developing air traffic management solutions and training solutions for over 15 years, and have joined forces to launch SkySim, a portable simulator that runs on laptops, and combines realistic exercise design, airspace edition and fully operational APP and ACC environments.

Didier Berling heads this initiative at SkySoft-ATM and is very enthusiastic about the practicality and user-friendliness of the tool: "The whole idea is coming from a demand to conduct simulations in FABEC and Skyguide evolution projects. We needed a simulation platform that FABEC controllers from the different ANSPs could take home and configure according to their own airspaces and traffic conditions. SkySim was the perfect solution to run a complete control centre on a laptop and let controllers configure their simulation and then gather them in the same room to run the scenarios involving all ANSPs on the same network to simulate new free route concepts across FABEC."

COPFLEX is another project in which the portable simulator has proved its efficiency. The objective of this simulation was to verify one key aspect of the virtual centre project that Skyguide is currently conducting. A series of simulations have been run to check the feasibility of controlling the entire Swiss upper airspace with controllers located in the Zurich or Geneva ACCs.

SkySim undertook procedures in two upper sectors, including tests to ascertain the possibility of conducting military operations in adverse weather conditions in order to experience the limits of this simulation approach.

Training tool

The portable simulator from Skysoft-ATM has also been presented to a number of universities and training academies.
According to Beat Spielmann, head of Skyguide’s training centre, "A portable simulator is a very nice add-on to the existing simulation environment. It can be used to bring simulation and training equipment easily to customers’ locations and allow a quick set-up to start courses without asking ATCOs to fly over to Zurich. This approach is welcomed by customers as it is cost-efficient and less disruptive for the organisation of operations."

Universities and research centres also appreciate the low cost of the portable simulators and can invest in the equipment for a simulation environment at a fraction of the cost of large ATC simulators. A classical simulator has rather high operating costs, taking into account depreciation and personnel costs – of pseudo pilots, in particular.

Another important benefit is that these organisations will be less dependent on the availability of the simulation environment installed at ANSPs that are reserved primarily for the training of ATCOs. Students also benefit from the recording features of the simulators. They can record all their simulations on USB for review or debriefing with their trainers.

A newcomer in the simulation business, SkySim fills a significant gap in the market and brings a new set of tools with which to train controllers, and validate new concepts and procedures. SkySim is a perfect fit for the upcoming SESAR 2020 and Horizon 2020 simulation programmes.