Digital towers shape Estonia’s future

Adacel’s REVAL digital tower product is slowly being rolled across Estonia. Today (10 March) is the last day scheduled for shadow operations at Tartu, after which Estonian Air Navigation Services (EANS) will submit an application to approve remote operations on a permanent basis.

“EANS’ revolutionary vision along with our employees’ technological expertise is transforming the Estonian’s airspace management and makes it possible to modernize air traffic services at regional airports around the world,” says Daniel Verret, Adacel’s CEO.

This is the second REVAL tower in Estonia following the Estonian Transport Administration’s certification of remote operations at Kuressaare Airport. The country’s air traffic management strategy calls for the other two main regional airports to implement digital towers by 2025. Everything will then be controlled from a remote centre in Tallinn.

Lessons learned from Adacel’s work to date includes involving controllers and the local civil aviation authority from the first step. Working in harmonisation has made the implementation a positive experience.

Most importantly, controllers, pilots and regulators are equally happy with the end result. Controllers, for example, have complete control over the system and can add or turn off information as required. They can even adjust the angle of cameras. When fully operational, controllers will be able to switch between airports from a single position.

Adacel takes a modular approach, which keeps the investment threshold low. A simple frame tower can house the cameras, for example, and bandwidth can dictate the camera resolution. Cameras can also go from a 360° view to 270° or 180° and are protected from weather by rotating glass. Weather data is accurate and there are even external mics if a controller wishes to hear the wind or the sound of aircraft engines.

Crucially, every system is doubled up to ensure resiliency. Shadow operations begun in 2019 and there have been no incidents of note.