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Electronic flight progress strips....what system is the best

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Electronic flight progress strips....what system is the best

Old 22nd Aug 2010, 14:08
  #41 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Earth, mostly
Posts: 15
I'm not going to mention which suppliers we looked at, but we all know who the main players are. The systems were evaluated in simulated environments and then a winner was selected based on strict criteria defined in the tender process, just like all systems should be.

The aerodrome is in the top 5 busiest worldwide and is now using EFPS succesfully, however, and this is a big however, its almost exclusively IFR heavy traffic. I'm guessing Wellington has mixed IFR and VFR? Lights mixed with heavys? Which of course is a different animal....
The EFPS has integrated well, after some resistance of course, but the bigger picture, from the airport and airline operators viewpoint is the data generated from the EFPS system, and conversely the data feeding the EFPS which has improved the overall efficiency of the airport by a significant margin, which we projected in simulation and has now been proven in live operations.

The light levels varied, why is that of interest? This has not been an issue as far as I am aware.
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Old 22nd Aug 2010, 14:13
  #42 (permalink)  
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@ Goldfrog

Your analysis could be true but I wouldnt hang my hat on that one without investigation...

Also when I mention engineering standards, that includes traceable software quality assurance by the supplier and comprehensive acceptance testing by the customer. Sorry if I wasnt clear.
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Old 23rd Aug 2010, 00:13
  #43 (permalink)  
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Location: Wellington,NZ
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The light levels varied, why is that of interest? This has not been an issue as far as I am aware.
Towers generally have 360 degree windows. For the first and last 3 hours or so of daylight, if you live in a place where there are sunny days, a combination of reflection and insufficient contrast on the screens makes them difficult to read, unless up close, personal, and pretty much square-on to the display. At night time, the overhead lights are a factor for reflection, unless re-positioning/redesign of them is taken into account when the EFS is installed.

Wellington is mainly medium and light traffic, and the occasional heavy. There is a reasonable amount of VFR traffic. The typical routes through the control zone, of both IFR and VFR traffic, can be somewhat complex.

But it's not the traffic mix that's the problem. We've deal with that happily for years. It's the heads-down time, and the type of mental distraction that creates.

If I want to write something on a conventional strip, say, a VFR clearance, or a ground taxi route, I move my hand over the approximate entry area on the strip, check that the pen is armed, and write. I can do this with a single glance; once the pen is in the correct place, and write what I want, while at the same time watching the runway. Or the weather. Or glancing at final approach. Or whatever. Even talking on the radio. I can actually multi-task rather well. And I don't have to compensate for parallax error. Where the nib touches the surface is where the data magically appears when the tool is activated.

If I want to enter the same info in an electronic strip, I have to take the scribe and touch the strip within a millimetre or two of the entry point. Sometimes that opens the wrong menu, because silly old me has moved laterally since I last calibrated the screen, maybe to look around a window frame, or stand up, or to peer up at a departing flight, or whatever. (Tower controllers do move around, a bit.) So then I have to close that menu, move my head to pretty much exactly where it was when the screen was last calibrated, touch the screen in the correct location, select from the available options on a drop-down menu, or go into a sub-menu, tap it, exit out (maybe twice), tap it again when the pilot reads it back.

Or I can use the crap writing tool. Works well on delivery or SMC, where there is a bit of time to faff around doing that.

So far, the heads down time has not made a huge difference, because with the reduction in air traffic over the past couple of years, we aren't dealing with as many flights as we used to. But guess what? It feels like we're dealing with more.

When you work in a busy tower, which is a pretty tactical sort of operation, an extra couple of seconds actually does make a disproportionate difference to the workload, not only because of the increased heads-down time, but because of the nature of the distraction, requiring a different kind of thought process to deal with. And every time you issue an instruction to an aircraft, some kind of strip interaction is usually required.

Pen and paper= simplicity and reliability. Never had a paper strip fail. Never had to reboot a Bic pen, and wait for half a minute for it to work again, because the ink dried up. A replacement was always within reach. I can talk, watch, plan, listen peripherally and write all at the same time. (Or tiny bursts of separated time, that appear to occupy the same temporal space to the consciousness. Multi-tasking is more correctly called time-splitting, these days.)

That's without going into the involved types of different data sources humans use. There is more than just visual. Any controller will tell you that tactile was an important "mental reinforcement-type" action.

Maybe I'm just thick, but I can't do that successfully using an EFS system; or at least, our EFS system.

Anyway, that's my last semi-educated rant on the subject.
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Old 23rd Aug 2010, 05:02
  #44 (permalink)  
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It's interesting to read the ongoing discussion here. I do wonder if, in a few years, someone will undertake some op analysis and the results of which show some unintended consequences of using an electronic system.

I always break out in a wry smile when I see one of the categories for the assessment of 'Day to Day Safety Measures' at my unit; the use of 'Tactile Methods to retain situational awareness'. Rather difficult on an electronic system.
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Old 23rd Aug 2010, 06:38
  #45 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2008
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Tarq57, It sounds to me that your EFPS installation was deemed to be a stand alone system that was not properly thought out, as you hinted at, there is more to it than just putting a couple of screens in.

I am aware that towers are generally 360 but installing powered light filters on each window would resolve your dusk/dawn issue. (no vampire jokes please)

Question: Do you really have overhead lighting ON in your tower at night? How do you see outside?

The larger concern is the hardware you describe, sounds like a generation 1 system from the early 90's, I am confident a mid-life upgrade of the panel technology would make your interaction painless. Hell, even my kid's bedroom PC doesn't suffer from those issues, and thats just a $1000 COTS gaming system with a 24 inch touch screen, with a half hours practice you dont need a mouse to interact with windows anymore, and retina scanning technology is on the horizon so it will get even better.

L/J Series : VAIO and Computing : Sony
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Old 23rd Aug 2010, 09:04
  #46 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: New Zealand
Age: 57
Posts: 22

am using same system as Tarq
I was one of biggest naysayers especially with regard to VFR, head down time, lighting, and writing without looking etc

have been using them in Auckland for a while now - reasonably okay traffic levels and a good mix from light singles through med turboprop and jets ( our biggest users ) to a good level of heavies.

I'm sold.
lighting is not a problem ( and we get more sun than WN ) learning to use the lighting adjustment controls correctly solved that one.
I calibrate as soon as I sit in position and very rarely have to redo it before handing over again.
With experience I find that the head down time is actually reduced as a single touch is quicker for most information ( and I can read it again afterward).

Yes we have had ,and are still having, some minor issues but a lot of these will be dealt with in the upcoming upgrade.

have to say that for me personally, I've gone from NAY to YAY.
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Old 23rd Aug 2010, 10:56
  #47 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Wellington,NZ
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Originally Posted by SimGod
Question: Do you really have overhead lighting ON in your tower at night? How do you see outside?
We have directional lighting overhead, in a tube w/ halogen spots, that illuminates just the workstation area. Including (unfortunately) the EFS tablets.
There are also overhead lights in the ceiling, that are long life (fluoro) bulbs, that personally I don't have on at night time, and mini LED spots low by each workstation. Like a lot of LEDs, these are intense, so I usually have them on the red colour only.

Powered light filters on the windows? Are you kidding? That would cost money, even if there was someone in NZ that make them.
The windows are tinted.

I doubt that Auckland gets more sunshine, or at least, more intense sunshine than Wellington. The air is clearer down here. Less ozone, too.

Interesting that we are told the AA controllers like EFS. We were told the CH controllers like them, too. But the reality is that some actually don't. There might be a few controllers in WN that like them; I sure don't speak for everyone.
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Old 24th Aug 2010, 18:23
  #48 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Brisbane
Posts: 9
Electronic Flight Progress Strips - One option.

Thales have a pretty cool looking system called Eurocat-T. I believe they are supplying to the UAE.

Scroll to the bottom of the page in this link and check out the video.

It's the only one I've seen that still allows the use of "pens" and gestures.
How it works in practice of course could be another thing entirely. Anyone here using Eurocat-T?

Thales's Media: 2010 in motion. ATC Amsterdam 2010

Hope that helps.
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Old 30th Aug 2010, 17:46
  #49 (permalink)  
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Anybody has experience with Indra's EFPS or is Poland the world's first FIR to have them?
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Old 31st Aug 2010, 13:59
  #50 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2010
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Thales' thing seems to be a beautyful video game !

The ATCOs seem to hesitate a lot when filling their e-strips , strips move slower than real ones.
When the girl writes something, it's unreadable. Surely, that' a simulation, the "ATCOs" are actors, they are not used to the system. They can't be qualified on it.
When a strip moves (slower than paper ones), their size changes... must be disturbing for a real controller.
The available documentation that shows on the screen is irrelevant : I hope ATCOs know their sector (they shouldn't need that). And it takes a place on the screen that could be useful otherwise.
Of course, this film shows a demonstrator, not the final system, which will have to be used for years in an operational safety context. After 2 years of heavy duty, what will that screen look like? My daughter's game's touch screen shows lots of scrapes after only 6 months...
The pen they use is a special one. It is not linked to the control position. How is the pen issue dealt with ? Does every ATCo have his own, or is there a pen per position ? How much does such a pen cost ? Who pays when the pen is lost ? When a pen is broken, is there a backup system?

I don't think they use e-strips in LFBO (IAC shown) they already have electronic co-ordination between TWR and APP and between APP and ACC, even though the result is a paper strip.

How much does this system cost ? For what improvement ?
Could anyone tell me what is better in e-strips vs paper strips ?
Not only the usual : "That's the future, you must live with your time" . I'd like to know what do controllers win by changing to an e-strips system.

Last edited by BrATCO; 31st Aug 2010 at 16:38.
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Old 1st Sep 2010, 14:42
  #51 (permalink)  
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I believe they are supplying to the UAE
Jip, but does not meet our expactions
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Old 21st Mar 2019, 21:35
  #52 (permalink)  
Join Date: Mar 2019
Location: Brazil
Posts: 2
Talking Saipher ATC

Originally Posted by square-head View Post
We are changing over to paper-less strips and had a look at various systems. But to get the most user-friendly one is difficult to judge. What is you experience on the best system?
A little bit late (lol), but that's the answer: >> www.saipher.com.br (TATIC System).
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Old 21st Mar 2019, 21:36
  #53 (permalink)  
Join Date: Mar 2019
Location: Brazil
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A little bit later, but that's the answer >> www.saipher.com.br (TATIC System).
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Old 23rd Mar 2019, 09:58
  #54 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: England
Posts: 29
Eurocontrol NOP23MAR 08:22Tactical update
EDDF (Frankfurt)
Arrivals regulated due to ATC Equipment (Paperless Strip System problems).
Moderate to high delays.
Anyone know which is in use here?
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