ATOS® is yet another project we made with our partner AP-TECH, a consulting, design, and software company operating in the aviation industry. You can read our other three case studies about:
ATOS® is the second project we did together with aviation industry experts AP-TECH. The first one was Clear AirSpace (you can read the case study here). AP-TECH offers a unique combination of a consulting, design and software development services for the aviation industry, especially airports.
After delivering an outstanding auxiliary navigation and electronic flight bag app Clear AirSpace®, we knew we are going to do some more big projects together with AP-TECH.
This time Gdańsk Lech Wałęsa Airport needed a solution that would allow it to become the only landing spot in the area in case of inclement weather conditions. This would make all the air traffic controllers redirect all the flights to Gdańsk and increase the revenue of the local airport.
The goal was to receive CAT III B certificate allowing pilots landing under the following conditions:
Building software for the aviation industry is especially challenging as the solutions require redundancy for safety reasons. It's not enough to provide just one working system. The airport can't operate on one system and server. Each element needs a backup. You need duplicated solutions, and sometimes even two or three backup systems to minimize the risk. Each hardware element - routers, switches, cables, servers clusters - all needed to be duplicated.
To get the certification, the flight controllers need to see everything on the airport, even when fog reduces the visibility to a mere five meters. For a plane to land, the airport system needs to provide all the coordinates required.
Until recently, the only solution for improving orientation in case of low visibility was adding a new radar device. On the downside, it was a costly option. And you need to ad a pair of radars to provide the control tower with viable information. That is why with AP-TECH we went for an innovative solution based on advanced software.
The ATOSS® collects data from different sources in the airport - induction loops, transponders, etc. - and assesses the availability of landing places. The system is aware of the position of all the planes and over 400 other vehicles operating on the airport taking care of the baggage and tanking fuel.
Every vehicle sends us a message. To localize it we use two data sources - transponders and induction loops. It may sound straightforward, but in practice, there are several complex problems to solve. Let us give you an easy example: what happens if a vehicle passes an induction loop and then immediately stops? The system needs to provide full security, so each time when an aircraft approaches landing, the runway is empty. The tank car collision is the leading risk, and we make sure to eliminate it.
Working with AP-TECH, we developed complex logic loops to enable solving the problems above. The flight controllers see our system and app to see which areas of the airport are clear at a given moment. They can see everything on a dashboard we created for the ATOSS® system. They receive the information not only about the usage of each zone but also full operations data. If anything important or unusual happens, they receive an alert.
The biggest challenge in this kind of infrastructure projects is that they can only be tested in real conditions. ATOSS® could only be tested when there were no operations on the airport. Since about half of Gdańsk Airport traffic are transport planes, this happened very rarely, and usually between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. Unfortunately, in practice transport planes are always late, so our team spent many nights at the airport waiting for an opportunity to run tests.
Thanks to our team's dedication and expertise we did it! The technical aviation goal was achieved. The airport category was lifted to CAT III B. This opened new business opportunities for Gdańsk Airport. It means that in case of inclement weather conditions in the region, all the flights are redirected to our client's airport.