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Important milestone for Baltic FAB:  new generation iTEC ATM system operational in Lithuania

On 26 February one of Baltic FAB partners, Oro Navigacija (Lithuania's ANSP), started providing air traffic control services within the airspace of the Republic of Lithuania using a new air traffic control system. This system is an integral part of technological partnership under iTEC project. Air traffic control service providers from Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Spain, Norway, Lithuania and Poland participate in the activity of iTEC project. The objective of iTEC project is to unify the air traffic control systems used by all air traffic control service providers participating in the activity of iTEC project.
The newly introduced iTEC system is composed of three independent, yet functionally correlated platforms: air traffic control system, air traffic control simulator and air traffic control testing platform. The integrity of these platforms allows to ensure high level competencies of the air traffic controllers and engineering personnel as well as safety of the flights and quality of the provided services.
“The usage of this new air traffic control system will enable us to enhance the safety of trips by air transport, providing the air traffic controllers with information about the flights from the surveillance systems (both ground and satellite), neighbouring air traffic control centres, manager of the European air traffic control system network, services within the European region that are provided in centralised manner as well as the aircraft directly”, stated the acting Chief Executive Officer of the Enterprise Redvita Četkauskienė.
According to the acting Chief Executive Officer, ambitious goals were set for the project introducing the new air traffic control system, the goals also encompassed the development of unified, new generation Baltic functional airspace block system, based on iTEC technical solutions. The value of the entire system equipment and the installation thereof amounted to 13.5 million of Euros, it was installed by Indra Sistemas.

A novelty  – data link for air traffic control
“iTEC installation process was long and consistent. My involvement in the process started by composing 2D map, which was afterwards transferred to 3D functional blocks by our engineers. This part of the work required especially high accuracy, since all the coordinates, every number and digit were entered manually. The next stages included systematic testing and acquaintance with the system itself”, air traffic controller from Area Control Centre Etgaras Bukevičius shared his experience.
He emphasised that a lot of testing procedures were executed during the introduction of the system in order to ensure that everything takes place smoothly and no threat is posed to flight safety after launching the system. “Safety is the main advantage of the new air traffic control system. Moreover, this system is more convenient and easier to manage than the previously used one. Using this system requires more comprehensive flight data, nevertheless, it provides aircraft flight progress and deviations are much more accurate in respect of flight safety”, observed E. Bukevičius.
His opinion is seconded by the Deputy Head of Operational Department Nerijus Maleckas, who singled out another significant function of the system, which allows to forecast and foresee the aircraft trajectory conflict situations in advance. “Previously air traffic controllers calculated the possible forthcoming aircraft conflicts based on various methods: by measuring the distance, calculating the speed and time, envisaging the speed of take-off and landing. Using the new system all the calculations are executed automatically, thus, creating conditions for air traffic controllers to have more time to make a decision in possible conflict situation”, stated N. Maleckas.
Another important advantage of the system is the newly introduced data link service, enabling to organise controller pilot data link communications between the air traffic control centre and the aircrafts flying within their area of responsibility. This function will not only enable to provide the air traffic control services of the highest quality and efficiency following all the requirements established by the European Union, but also to increase the air traffic control capacities.
“Immediately after the launch of the new system, the air traffic controllers will be able to maintain a connection with the pilots using non-voice connection, namely, text messages. That will allow to ensure a more accurate and a wider scope of connection continuity and increase the airspace capacity. With the help of text messages, we will be enabled to eliminate the interferences caused by pilot accents, dialects and connection disturbances. Responding with a text message is more rapid and simpler than transferring the message over the usual voice connection. All the messages are seen on the computer screen simultaneously, which in turn makes the communication easier, especially when the flight flows are high in numbers”, E. Bukevičius shared the advantages of the new system.
After the launch of the new system, the air traffic controllers working at Area Control Centre moved to work at new, modern and light premises, where ergonomic work places, meeting the individual needs of the air traffic controllers were installed. The new air traffic control centre meets the strictest and the most modern standards, thus opening opportunities to continue the equipment development works and enabling to meet all the requirements in the future.