An ANSP that Cares

On 20/11/2015, in ATC world, by steve

Hungary has always been at one of the busiest cross-roads of European traffic and time and again had to absorb even more flights when conflicts near-by and not so near-by resulted in a reshuffling of the routes taken by overflights of all kinds. The airport in Budapest has always been a lively place and its traffic is now recovering nicely following the crisis the industry went through in recent years. All in all, air traffic controllers in the country have always had a lot on their plates and have justifiably earned praise for their safe and efficient operation.

Photo HungaroControl

Photo HungaroControl

The Hungarian air navigation service provider, HungaroControl is well known in the industry and they count as one of the most innovative ANSPs… some might even say too innovative but that is pure jealousy in my view. The list of new products and services they have put out is impressive. ATCO training, one of the premier simulation and validation centers, a sequencing tool for arriving and departing traffic… not to mention the fact that Hungary has the first completely and truly free route airspace in Europe. CPDLC is in the pipeline and work is underway to introduce the remote tower concept, expected to actually replace the current brick and mortar facility at some point in the not too distant future. Clearly, this is an ANSP that is not afraid to push the boundaries.

It was with this background that their email requesting that we, industry folks answer a few questions from which HungaroControl wants to get an idea of their reputation in the world. I am not too keen on surveys in general (the Star Alliance is especially keen on asking for my opinion after each time I fly with them and this happens quite often) but a survey coming from an ANSP is probably a first and as such, it picked my interest.

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Budapest 2.0: HungaroControl to Participate in an International Research & Development Programme

On 29/12/2014, in SESAR's Palace, by steve

The results of the most recent technological developments are being tested in simulations and actual flights in the framework of the Budapest 2.0 project, organised by a large international collaboration. The programme, scheduled to last for two years, will demonstrate the arrival and departure procedures of the Budapest terminal approach airspace, the remote tower control solution and the extension of the solution that supports continuous descent approach in the Hungarian airspace. The project budget is nearly EUR 2.5 million, 50 percent of which is provided by the European Union’s Single European Sky (SES) programme through its SESAR Joint Undertaking tender.

In the framework of the Budapest 2.0 project, a six-member international consortium is setting up a demonstration environment for the purpose of testing and demonstrating the air navigation developments closely related to the SESAR research and development programme. The aim of the project is to present the technological innovations and procedures that specifically improve the operations of low- and medium-traffic airports, as they help to schedule aircraft arrivals more efficiently, to reduce the number of delayed flights, more economically operate planes and reduce the environmental impact.

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Neither here nor there…

On 09/02/2014, in Tower chronicles, by lajos

LajosI must be out of my mind, no question about it. After just one week on my new job I had tears in my eyes when I was sitting once more in the tower, headset on my ears, I uttered the magic sentence: “Cleared to land, runway 31 right”. I also had this nice feeling… I have not gotten completely detached from the tower. Sure, the new job is an exciting challenge but you do not get over 30 years just like that. Luckily my voice did not betray my emotions and so I escaped being made fun of by my colleagues.

One thing is sure, it was strange going out to the airport every day for a week… well the airport? More like the ANS facility. The reception did help a lot and made me forget the strange feeling in record time. Slowly I made the acquaintance of the new colleagues whom I did know already from the time when I was just a visitor. This appears to be a nice little crew and luckily everyone have their place and tasks, so they were not looking at me with eyes that would say, now you were the last thing we needed.

So I slotted into my new position, poor Meaty’s old one that got all cold by now. My first act was that of a small remembrance, I wrote a message to Meaty up there, assuring him that I will try to fill the void he left as best I can. This will not be easy as I discovered the very first week. There were also a few hair raising moments when nobody knew where I actually belonged. I was no longer on the staff of air traffic control and I was not yet on the staff of the safety department. So? But matters sorted themselves out after a while. At least that is what I hope.

Lajos2

About my job… well there is not much to write home about, perhaps only to say that as a tower expert, I will keep track of events that concern the tower. If an incident occurs, I will investigate it, draw the conclusions and send the results to the appropriate people. We do have other tasks but I will not dwell on those. I want to continue writing the Tower Chronicles, something that is probably more interesting also for the readers.

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Busy October

On 13/11/2013, in Tower chronicles, by lajos

photo_lockheedThe first part of October turned out to be busier than we bargained for. Soon after the nostalgic visit to Riga I was once again on my way to the airport occasioned by a new incident investigation. It was not a big deal, only the usual silly 4 miles issue. This was not the point however. The points were the discussions I have had with the folks at the flight safety department and also their bosses. To be perfectly honest, I was rather pleased when they invited me to fill the post left vacant by the untimely passing away of my good friend Meaty. To be more precise, they asked me to move my base of operations from the tower to the flight safety department. I hesitated for a short time but all the while I was glad that my forecast had come in. No one applied to be a full-time incident investigator during the competition held in the summer and I was secretly hoping that I would get the job without having to take an interview. If that were to happen, I would not need to prove to the twentysomething HR gal that I actually know what I am about. In the end everything turned out according to my expectations and I said yes.

From then on the difficult part begins. It is still not sure when I might start. Problem is, the complement of the tower would not be reduced by only my departure. There are the five colleagues too who have applied for the Kosovo conversion course. Never mind the funny question: why did aerodrome controllers have to apply for a purely area control job? The answer to that question is blowing in the wind, as Bob Dylan would say.

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HungaroControl’s MergeStrip – New take on an old concept

On 03/04/2013, in ATC world, by steve

HungaroControl’s MergeStrip process will be beneficial to air traffic controllers, airlines and the public alike

photo_bkusky_servicesThe Hungarian air navigation service provider is currently finalizing the development of MergeStrip, a unique process to help air traffic control become more efficient, make the operation of aircraft more economical and less polluting, and reduce noise in the vicinity of airports. The air navigation industry in Europe is already showing significant interest in the new process.

As a result of more than two years of cooperation between HungaroControl’s operations and operations planning teams, a new air traffic planning concept named MergeStrip and its supporting software has been developed by ATM system designer Richárd Madácsi, a HungaroControl professional. The new methodology will enable the continuous descent of the aircraft approaching the runway. The aircraft approaching with a continuous descent consume less fuel and therefore can be operated more efficiently, have a lower carbon dioxide emission and they are also “less noisy”: as the aircraft do not have to use additional energy from time to time to make progress, the optimum utilization of the accumulated positional energy leads to lower engine output, i.e. the noise load of the citizens living near airports can be reduced.

Software and systems to assist the scheduling of approach of aircraft preparing to land have existed before, as several air navigation service providers have made substantial investments to make the management of the approaching traffic more efficient. At the same time, these systems have failed to meet the expectations in several cases and have been the subject of intense criticism by the air traffic controllers. One of the main problems was that the landing schedule and the routes calculated by the computer often fail to provide the required outcomes and the air traffic controllers are forced to make frequent interventions. It is important to note that the cost of developing and commissioning HungaroControl’s new process is a fraction of the costs of other, currently used systems.

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And the show goes on…

On 17/03/2013, in Tower chronicles, by lajos

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Ferihegy is a beautiful, magical world…

When the split took place and Budapest Airport (BA) Ltd and Hungarocontrol were created, the airport was left adrift… The most important activity of BA was divesting itself from all manner of activities and, as the saying goes, they managed to throw out the baby with the bath water. This way, the managed to successfully get rid of their ground handling operation.

When they realized that they were unable to turn a profit even in this slimmed down state, a second historic blunder was made. Hoping for a miracle, the operating concession of the airport was sold to a foreign company. May be the idea was not so bad but the way it was realized haunts us to this day. I have no idea who the original bidders were but we heard a lot of promising stories about the British company which won in the end. Possibly they excelled in operating other airports but it is certain they did not send their best people to run Ferihegy. Their only legacy is the memory of the many trees they had chopped down by reason of avoiding birds nesting on the airport’s grounds. Yes, the British had indeed cut the airport down in more ways than one.

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One of Europe’s most modern Air Traffic Control Centres inaugurated in Budapest

On 27/02/2013, in ATC world, by steve

hc_logo_enThe new Hungarian air navigation centre was inaugurated in Budapest on 27 February 2013, bringing the complex investment programme of the Hungarian air navigation service provider to a conclusion. The high tech centre will further advance the air transport infrastructure of both Hungary and Central Europe as a whole, contributing to the continued competitiveness of the Hungarian air navigation services. The opening ceremony was held in the presence of representatives from the European Commission, EUROCONTROL, the Trans-European Transport Network Executive Agency (TEN-T EA) and the Hungarian government.

The project, called ANS III, is a key component of the complex development programme sponsored by HungaroControl to strengthen Air Traffic Management (ATM) efficiency and to ensure that the Hungarian air navigation service provider meets the European Union’s performance objectives.

It involved building a state of the art ATM control centre with the potential to implement cutting edge technologies and to provide efficient services to civil aviation. The European Union supported the project via its TEN-T Programme and with a €6 million grant managed through the TEN-T EA.

The new ATM centre is equipped with high quality innovative equipment and software, such as the MATIAS air navigation and communication system – recognised across the world and developed with the participation of Hungarocontrol, the Hungarian air navigation service provider (ANSP). The opening of ANS III provides the opportunity for HungaroControl to centralise its research and innovation efforts at a single location, thus creating a state-of-the-art air navigation research, development and simulation knowledge centre.

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At the tail end of the darkest year

On 23/12/2012, in Tower chronicles, by lajos

Luckily, the failure of Ferihegy tower did not last long. But it was nevertheless long enough to cause misery to thousands of travelers. A few of them tried to find alternative means of transport, like taking a bus to Vienna and trying to secure a seat on planes there. Others, resigned to their fate, just went home and I am not sure they will ever try flying again. In any case, the experts reestablished power to the tower using a portable generator so at 7 am on the 8th of December operations could resume. Colleagues on the night shift told us that they awaited the “miracle” in the control centre as there was not much logic in going out to the tower. The supervisor acted as messenger, bringing news of how the works were progressing. In the early hours of the morning came the information that they should now return to the tower, set up the systems and be ready for the morning departures to leave on time. It must have been some night!

Not that our night shift was any better. On the night of 11 December, we switched from the generator to normal power. I was one of the lucky ones who could watch the screens go dark as the generator was switched off. A scary sight! It would have been nice to make a video of this event but these days the price you pay for something like this is being shot in the head, so it is not worth it. When all went dark and on the emergency lights twinkles forlornly in the whole building, we too moved to the rest area. Luckily, it did not take long before we could return to the control room and it was time to restart the systems. Then we watched expectantly… what would happen? Would it all work? But once again our technicians had done an excellent job and the morning peak could go ahead without any problem. Everyone was happy, some may even have had a few champagne bottles popped… Of course people at the airport company were also eagerly awaiting the news from us… but that is another story.

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Transition

On 17/12/2012, in Tower chronicles, by lajos

Following our late-autumn holiday, returning to our dearly loved capital city’s even more beloved airport, we once again struck the strings in the thick of life. There was no time to get bored, in part because of the frequent foggy weather but even more, since air traffic control’s history had entered a new phase. Apparently all obstacles have been removed and the second part of November saw work starting in the new air traffic control centre, ANS III.

For starters, we were given a short orientation course that covered the process of transition. We then went to gape at the new control room. My first impression was that the place had become much more colorful. The red wall to wall carpeting did cause some differences of opinion among the colleagues however. There were those (among them myself) who liked it, while others though the color was too bright.

The room does not appear to be substantially bigger but there is more light a fact approach controllers will not like much since the windows cause reflections on their screens. I guess curtains will make sure that the Sun will not shine often in this new room either. We did not get to see the other areas and one can only hope that the colleagues will have plenty of space also for relaxation and rest.

Obviously, with all this going on, the Tower is not left unaffected. We too are getting new software and this will be phased in as the transition progresses. We have two additional monitors… two more things to watch! The various offices under our feet are also evolving to line up with the new requirements. One of our rest areas was moved into an office previously belonging to the boss… I wonder whether his ghost will be watching over our heads as we slumber and rest.

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HungaroControl’s New Air Traffic Control Center Building Commissioned Today

On 30/08/2012, in ATC world, by steve

ANS III to go live in February next year

HungaroControl’s new air traffic control center building, commissioned on 30 August 2012, marks a new important milestone of ANS III, the complex development plan for the Hungarian air navigation service provider. After installing the software, moving into the new facility, and completing a successful pilot operation, Hungarian air traffic controllers will control the airspace from the new hi-tech air navigation center.

As part of its ANS III complex development plan, HungaroControl Plc. is establishing a new high-tech air traffic control center in Budapest, Hungary. The purpose of the investment is to extend the existing capacities of the Hungarian air traffic control and maintain its high level of efficiency, technological standards and reliability in line with the EU’s integration plans and performance objectives. Built with EU funding of EUR 6 million in the framework of the TEN-T (Trans European Network – Transport) plan, the new air traffic control center has a total floor space of close to 10,000 square meters on three levels.

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