The Radar Screen Goes Online

In August 2019, Hamburg Airport became the first airport in the world to put a new, web-based radar display into operation. It provides real-time information about airspace and apron activity on mobile devices and is used in the apron control vehicles in Hamburg.
With the PHOENIX web innovation system, DFS Aviation Services has further developed the existing PHOENIX system already in use in Hamburg. DFS Aviation Services is a subsidiary of DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH. It markets products and services related to air navigation and is also responsible for air traffic control at many regional airports in Germany.

PHOENIX Webinnovation was introduced at Hamburg Airport to provide control vehicle drivers with a visual representation of the aircraft, as well as an acoustic one – listening to the radio frequencies of the tower and pilots – as an additional support, explains Christian Schultz, Manager Operational Services at Hamburg Airport. The web-based air situation display thus ideally complements DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung’s existing Phoenix system, which has been used successfully at Hamburg Airport for years, both in apron control and in the traffic control centre. It enables the visual tracking of the spaces and distances between aircraft, which is particularly beneficial in bad weather conditions.

Positive Feedback from Users

The impetus for the development of PHOENIX Webinnovation came from Hamburg Airport itself, but DFS Aviation Services was already working on modernising the system too. The new system runs via web browser and can be operated in the cloud. Another operator, Schwäbisch Hall Airport, joined the project in the development phase, bringing in their own requests and ideas. PHOENIX Webinnovation went live there in September 2019. A team of air traffic control experts, system developers, a designer and employees of the participating airports developed a modern, simple and intuitive design for PHOENIX Webinnovation. In addition, the participants exchanged ideas in workshops with controllers from DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung and DFS Aviation Services.

It is extremely well received by the users – a good six months after take-off at both airports, DFS Aviation Services is receiving consistently positive feedback from the employees who use the system every day. The amount of training required is low, the system runs reliably and without downtime, and in some cases new functions have already been implemented based on the feedback from users.

In the meantime, DFS Aviation Services has received further enquiries from customers in airports, ground handling and emergency services – because thanks to its great flexibility, PHOENIX Webinnovation can be used at any airport and by other aviation-related customers too. The system has been further developed so that ground situation, drone flights and other data related to air traffic can also be displayed. In addition, a completely cloud-based product (“Software as a Service”) is planned, which will no longer require any hardware installation at the customer’s site. This will allow the data to be displayed on almost any terminal (laptop, tablet, PC) via web browser.

Many Possible Applications in All Areas of Air Traffic

With PHOENIX web innovation, DFS Aviation Services gives every participant in the air traffic system the opportunity to receive an air and/or ground situation display as well as additional information, thus improving workflows and safety. The size of the airport and the number of take-offs and landings are irrelevant, as the initial customers have shown: With 17 million passengers per year, Hamburg is Germany’s fifth largest airport, while Schwäbisch Hall Airport is a regional airport that was previously a military airfield.

In Hamburg, the apron drivers benefit from the real-time information provided on take-off and landing times, which they now receive in their vehicles in the same way as their colleagues in the control centres. The drivers can thus better coordinate and plan their journeys. At Schwäbisch Hall, PHOENIX web innovation is used in the tower to display the air situation. This not only increases safety, but the precise display also enables the tower crew to control approaches in such a way that the aircraft noise pollution affecting the surrounding communities can be kept as low as possible.

Text by Corinna Panek
Photos: HAM Airport/Michael Penner, DFS
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