Company Insight

Cloud-based ATC – a competitive advantage

For a long time, the Air Traffic Management industry was cautious about cloud solutions. There was too much uncertainty as to whether they could meet the high industry standards regarding safety, reliability, performance and functionality. But today, the first practical applications are proving their suitability and demonstrating great advantages.

Digitalisation, data and cloud solutions are terms and trends we are all faced with in many areas in our daily lives. They have dominated technological development across various sectors worldwide for some years now, and are sure to continue to do so in the future.

But why is the aviation industry still so cautious and hesitant?

DFS Aviation Services, a 100% subsidiary of the German ANSP DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung, is certain that cloud technology is a crucial element for the industry’s future system landscape and has great potential for a wide range of use cases, including new ones. And we are convinced that today’s advanced technologies can address every need individually, without compromising safety, security, reliability or performance.

That’s why we see the development of modern, flexible cloud solutions as an essential part of our product portfolio and began development of the first web-based and cloud-ready air and ground situation display PHOENIX WebInnovation in 2018. The idea originated with a customer request for a mobile radar screen in usually high ATM quality. In just one year, DFS Aviation Services had developed PHOENIX WebInnovation, and in August 2019 Hamburg Airport became the first airport in the world to operate with a web-based, cloud-ready radar display for its apron management service.

DFS Aviation Services quickly realised the great potential the independent tool offered for the industry, and the positive customer feedback and increasing number of requests also encouraged us to continue. We concentrated on further development, especially the cloud access options, and partnered with external cloud experts to broaden the expertise.

What exactly can the industry’s first cloud solution do?

PHOENIX WebInnovation is a web- and cloud-based full service ATS tool with an intuitive HMI, based on the DFS Group’s high-performance, multisensor fusion tracker DFS PHOENIX. At its core, it provides a modern radar display for air and ground situation (Controller Working Position). The radar screen is extendable with an information and support display for other relevant content such as meteorological information, navigational charts and lighting control.

The tool uses the latest web and cloud technology and is independent of hardware and operating systems. It can be used from various devices such as laptops or tablets, and not just from a fixed (Controller Working) position. It therefore only requires a standard web browser (e.g. Chrome or Safari).

PHOENIX WebInnovation uses a flexible system-oriented architecture (SOA) within a virtual container environment (Docker/Kubernetes). It is capable of integrating all relevant ATC components such as tracker and interface processes, but is also extendable within an existing environment. The cloud access can be set up as an on-site solution or via a public cloud.

PHOENIX WebInnovation is compliant with all relevant EUROCONTROL standards for surveillance, flight plan and weather information.

The Support & Info display provides all relevant air traffic control information, even on a mobile tablet.

What is the great potential of a cloud-based tool such as this?

  • Independent of existing hardware and operating systems
  • Flexible and scalable
  • Local and remote installations possible
  • Reduce dependency on expensive technical infrastructure
  • Centralised maintenance options save time and resources
  • Location-independence helps to achieve the necessary awareness of the air traffic situation, wherever you are 
  • Covers new applications (e.g. trends as multi-remote tower or cost-optimised contingency centres)
  • Modern Software as a Service (SaaS) version available: Comfortable standardised service packages (basic, standard, premium) bookable with PHOENIX WebInnovation@Cloud

What use cases is the tool suitable for?

The mobile ATS tool displays real-time ground and air situations with additional helpful information in professional ATM quality from any place. With this, PHOENIX WebInnovation meets the needs of all aviation stakeholders, including ANSPs, airports, airlines, helicopter squadron, airport fire brigades and emergency services.

Examples of possible use cases: 

  • Extension of existing systems
  • Integrated display solution for old system infrastructure (modernisation)
  • Contingency centres
  • Mobile use cases for e.g. emergency forces or Follow-Me cars
  • Apron management & ground handling 
  • Training purposes
  • Remote and centralised control for more distant regions  support for remote and multi-remote tower operations
  • Integration of drone traffic currently in advanced development

The modern radar display in night mode. The intuitive user interface (HMI) offers a whole range of useful applications and setting options.

Are you ready for cloud-based air traffic services?

DFS Aviation Services’ experience shows, web and cloud tools bring great opportunities for the whole aviation sector that should be taken advantage of. With experienced cloud experts at your side, there’s no longer any doubt about quality or performance. The sector needs to move to the next technological level to be able to meet future challenges. The coronavirus crisis has only exacerbated this and made it clear that, for digital and remote solutions, the opportunities far outweigh the risks.

DFS Aviation Services and its PHOENIX WebInnovation are ready for more. With the experience we’ve gained in the German market and our advanced tools, we’re cleared to fly internationally. Would you like to take the next step into the technological future with us?

Let's talk about it!

Contact details

DFS Aviation Services GmbH

Mr. Dietmar Schneider
Head of Sales & Key Account Management