Virtual center capabilities and remote ATC operations

Virtual center

Virtual center capability enables multiple area control centers to operate as a network

Highly volatile air traffic volumes and the economic necessity to optimize the deployment of highly qualified staff require modern operational concepts that go beyond a single area control center.

The CERTIUM VCS (voice communications system) virtual center capability for area control centers makes geographically distributed, redundant ATCs possible. This technology, which has been exclusively developed by Rohde & Schwarz, allows multiple centers to be operated as if they were one, resulting in higher flexibility and maximum availability.

Multiple centers, which can be located in different countries, can share radios and telecommunications resources that are interconnected via a high-speed IP network. The systems can be operated independently of each other in standalone mode or interlinked in joint operation mode. The latter allows control center operators to access all the resources and functions in the other centers.

This dynamic distribution between individual control centers provides a decisive advantage for the ANSP. During regular operations, the flexible distribution of workloads between air traffic controllers offers the chance to react to changing weather patterns. This can save costs thanks to optimized utilization of capacities and even result in higher staff satisfaction, since fewer staff members are required during unpopular and low-traffic night shifts when another center can take over operations. This technology can make use of the cross-border functional airspace blocks (FAB) required as part of the Single European Sky initiative. The ability to use additional data applications is another economic benefit. Weather data, video messages, text messages, etc. can be displayed directly on the air traffic controller's console.

In the unlikely event of one of the control centers not being available (e.g. due to fire, power outage, natural disaster), operations can continue without interruption thanks to the geographical separation. In such a scenario, resources are redistributed dynamically: unaffected control centers quickly and transparently take over the tasks of the failed control center, providing disaster recovery and operational continuity.

Rohde & Schwarz provides a future-proof, IP-ready solution for ATC virtual centers, aligning with the industry's shift towards flexible and scalable IP architectures. Our CERTIUM components, built on EUROCAE ED-136 and ED-137 standards, harness the benefits of IP technology, including high flexibility and network resilience. This enables the creation of virtualized ATC environments that can be easily scaled, adapted, and distributed. To ensure the reliability and performance of these complex systems, our R&S®AVQA analysis system provides real-time monitoring and analysis, utilizing passive mid-point data flow analysis to detect and report any issues, ensuring that every link is fully functional and operational.

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