Leonardo builds a digital future

04 May 2018
Leonardo displayed digital tower technology for the first time in March 2018 at the World ATM Congress. Source: IHS Markit/Patrick Allen

Leonardo is expanding its digital air traffic management (ATM) portfolio with new developments designed to enhance safety and efficiency, some drawn from experience gained in the military sector. Security & Information Systems Division Director Andrea Biraghi told Jane’s the civil market stands to gain “from investments we are making in defence. It is fundamentally a similar approach”.

Leonardo displayed its digital tower technology for the first time at World ATM Congress in March 2018, including a virtual reality (VR) capability to relay additional information to tower controllers. “We replicate what is performed today, but with the advantages of virtual reality,” explained Davide Cioppi, senior vice-president Traffic Control Systems.

With an extensive customer base in the Middle East that includes air traffic control infrastructure for Hamad International Airport in Qatar, Leonardo is familiar with hazards such as weekly sandstorms, fog, and unpredictable weather. “Augmented reality can you see something you would not normally be able to see,” said Cioppi. “Digital technology gives you more information, and enhances safety.”

In addition to out-of-the-window visualisation, the digital tower integrates airfield lighting control, surface movement guidance, and weather data. Leonardo plans to field a test version of the controller working position later in 2018.

Leonardo has applied VR to other domains, in particular maintenance operations. “We have combined augmented reality and artificial intelligence to deliver an innovative service to customers,” said Cioppi. “Maintenance is a crucial part of the customer value chain, with traditional practices. We are making the life of the maintenance operator much easier.” Using smart glasses to point to an equipment part, an iPad can provide a graphical display along with the relevant diagnostic procedures for training or for maintenance purposes. The tools also incorporate self-learning technology designed to reduce routine help desk enquiries.

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