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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 23rd Jul 2010, 07:58
  #1 (permalink)  
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Electronic flight progress strips....what system is the best

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?
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Old 23rd Jul 2010, 09:14
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Will you be using them in Tower, Approach, Area or all three? There are a few providers now including Selex, Frequentis, Nav Canada, Saab and Park Air Systems. For a radar environment Selex's SATCAS 2000 enables interaction through the data labels on the Radar screen so you can keep an eye on what is going on, or you can have electronic strips on the same screen with a smaller radar picture. Park Air uses electronic strips on a Wacom panel but there is no interaction through the radar screen which means you spend more time looking at your board while inputting data/instructions. I have no experience of the other systems, as for which is the best that depends on what you're looking for in the system. I will say this though, SATCAS, Frequentis' smartstrips, NavCanada and Saab are proven systems in a live approach/en-route environment as opposed to Park Air's which as far as I know is only in live use in the tower environment with Jersey being the guinea-pig for the approach versions later in the year.
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Old 23rd Jul 2010, 11:52
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At the end of the day, the most important factors are how much flexibility you have at your own unit to customise the system to your own needs, and how much resource is devoted to achieving that.

It's all very well selecting the 'best' system to use, but if it's not resourced and supported adequately, and you end up having to fight for that resource with other units, then it's not ideal.
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Old 24th Jul 2010, 08:20
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We appreciate your feedback. The EFSS will be used only for the tower,. We tried to customise to our need, but the software engineers finds it extermely diffciult to achieve. Does anybody had experience with Thales systems?
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Old 24th Jul 2010, 10:01
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Why would you want to adopt a system that would seem to offer most benefit to the enroute (centre) situation, and put that in an environment where it is important that those who use it are supposed to look out the window occasionally?

We've been using Frequentis strips on Wacom panels for about a year. I would move back to paper strips tomorrow, if given a choice.

The way the information is required to be processed seems to cause distraction out of proportion to any benefits (there are some benefits.)

Two things I utterly detest about them are (1) when a menu window is open, you must close it - actioned or not - before you can do anything else on the board. Some windows open sub-windows; serial closing of all is required, before you can do anything.
(2) the writing tool is crap. To get anything approaching legibility requires the strip to be expanded, and then precise writing on it. Pause for a few seconds and it minimizes itself. It is often easier to use the drop-down menus than to try and write, for anything involved. There is a lack of flexibility as to what can be written- a software issue - and inadequate symbols available.
(3) the brightness/contrast controls are software based, taking many button pushes to alter the screen. (most modern monitors have this "feature", however.)
(4) They are replacing our flight data assistants. It would be interesting to know how much money this will save; replacing three salaries with an expensive software/hardware package and follow on support.

I realize that's 4 not 2. I could think of another 4 without difficulty. What was particularly disappointing was all the PR from those I should have been able to trust concerning how good they were, and then finding the reality substantially different. Made me feel a loser, doubly so.

I view them as part of the dumbing down of the profession. No doubt ANS providers will embrace them with open arms, partly because of this.

[edit] I was informed that Frequentis are well regarded in the field. I have no reason to think that their product might be worse than any other. Perhaps it's the software, or the version purchased, that contributes to our issues with them. Sure results in a great deal of heads-down time, for sure.

Last edited by Tarq57; 24th Jul 2010 at 10:04. Reason: Addition.
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Old 25th Jul 2010, 14:20
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Originally Posted by Tarq57 View Post
I was informed that Frequentis are well regarded in the field. I have no reason to think that their product might be worse than any other. Perhaps it's the software, or the version purchased, that contributes to our issues with them. Sure results in a great deal of heads-down time, for sure.
NATS are working with Frequentis to install smart strips on a WACOM panel in both of our area centres. Our Human Factors team have done a lot of work with them in designing the User Interface to ensure it works for ATC and head down time is minimised. We'll be introducing it into service at Prestwick centre first in January next year.

BD
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Old 25th Jul 2010, 19:35
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hi, we introduced estrips two years ago and we have almost no complaints. partialy it is due the fact, that atcos are part of the development team. Our extensive experience is at your disposal. send me a pm with email, I can elaborate in deatail how we managed that.

we don't use EUROCAT, but the Czech ANS who was the first customer of FDPS we are using is.
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Old 26th Jul 2010, 09:26
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Hi,

There are many suppliers of (Electronic Flight Progress Strips) EFPS solutions, but here you have to be careful and firstly to clarify what do you need exactly.
You said that you need it for Tower operations, fine, but it is only a starting point in defining your needs.
Some of the other factors that need to be defined are:
- which FDP is serving your tower operations today
- are you happy with all its functionalities
- is your intention to integrate EFPS with your existing FDP or you would need a new FDP to fully accomodate your needs/expectations
- do you want to automate certain ATCO tasks with your EFPS
- do you need SYSCO functionality
- do you need safety nets tools
- what are your needs for configuring sectorisation of CWPs
- do you need to have it integrated with SMGCS
- etc.....

Keep in mind that main enabler for all functionalities/tools that ATCO has in one ATC system (in your case TWR EFPS) is your FDP. What you see and interact with on the disply on your CWP has to be supported by good FDP in order to be useful.
Be awear that ATM system suppliers are very careful and precise in using the terms/expresions/vocabulary when you are ordering something from them.
Which can mean that you ask for electronic strips with the certain layout/look as an interaction device, you get it , but you do not get desired functionalities because they are enabled by another module/sub-system that you did not ask for. Of course this example I give is a bit of exaguration just to ilustrate what can happen during this process.

I had experiance with Thales system (Eurocat T) for me it works well in line with ATCO logic, it is modular which means can be deployed in several levels of complexity depending on requirements.
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Old 26th Jul 2010, 13:40
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bd wrote:
NATS are working with Frequentis to install smart strips on a WACOM panel in both of our area centres. Our Human Factors team have done a lot of work with them in designing the User Interface to ensure it works for ATC and head down time is minimised. We'll be introducing it into service at Prestwick centre first in January next year.
this is subject to the end user finding it acceptable to work with ,i hope?
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Old 26th Jul 2010, 15:27
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Originally Posted by ayrprox
this is subject to the end user finding it acceptable to work with ,i hope?
LMAO, You either don't work for NATS or are very out of touch with the current company strategy.

Ask the majority of current Scottish Airport ATCOs if they think the system that they've recently been lumbered with is "acceptable to work with" and I can take a pretty good guess at the answer
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Old 26th Jul 2010, 19:06
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Originally Posted by ayrprox View Post
bd wrote:
this is subject to the end user finding it acceptable to work with ,i hope?
That's why they've done, and are still doing, lots of validation work and the reason that 'O' date slipped from November to January. The product as it was wasn't acceptable to the users, hence more functionality and improvements, which inevitably impacted on the 'O' date.

BD
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Old 27th Jul 2010, 03:15
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Square-head,

Does anybody had experience with Thales systems?
You've got quite a few (alot) of ex Aussie ATCs over in Germany now, suggest you grab a few and ask. The Eurocat enroute strips are good, but they actually used ATCs to design them!
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Old 27th Jul 2010, 07:34
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Which can mean that you ask for electronic strips with the certain layout/look as an interaction device, you get it , but you do not get desired functionalities because they are enabled by another module/sub-system that you did not ask for. Of course this example I give is a bit of exaguration just to ilustrate what can happen during this process.
Glad to hear we're not the only ones to have bad experiences with that sort of things :-p

Anyway, in Brussels, we use an in-house developed system at the tower, which works quite well for more than 8 years already.

More info at Belgocontrol - Airport Movement System - AMS
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Old 27th Jul 2010, 10:34
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We've never had any major problems with our estrips. There were some real minor hickups at the start of the operations...

as japanac pointed out, it is extremely important to pinpoint exactly what do you want to achieve with estrips. in our environemnt estrips are mainly substitution for MTCD since assistant ATCO is sorting out the strategic separation. We are puting more and more info on the radars screen, but very carefuly, in order to take the burden off the exe.
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Old 27th Jul 2010, 11:48
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If you are planning to use Electronic strips, bear in mind your existing functions.

First, the primary source of information/control decision is outside on the apron and the manoeuvring area - will the electronic display reduce the look out time?

Second, do you have a runway blocked strip? The action of putting it there reinforces the mental picture. How will you reinforce runway activity in the electronic world?

Third, with the manual strip, the noise of the assistant putting a strip on the board alerts the controller. How will you replicate/highlight new information electronically so that there is no need to constantly monitor the screen?

Fourth, Has the wide variation in light in the tower been satisfactorily addressed?

For Approach and enroute the controller's main work area is the radar/FDP display in a light controlled environment, for the tower it ain't, so the problem of increasing efficiency is different and perhaps much more complex. Personally, I would like a head up display so that the information is overlaid on my main work area - outside.
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Old 12th Aug 2010, 12:13
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We've found that the best system is the one that still uses paper strips!! Granted that's not going to be an option for you but you'll be amazed at all the things you'll find you can't do easily that you used to do easily. Our system (Nav Canada) works after a fashion with IFR traffic but when you introduce VFR traffic of any description (overflights, free calls, circuits etc.) or non standard IFR/VFR it seems to sulk! At least, that's my unit's experience in the UK.
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Old 12th Aug 2010, 15:04
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Bring back tridents,
Sounds like the system isn't safe to use then.
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Old 12th Aug 2010, 15:42
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Does anybody had experience with Thales systems?
Yes. Bring money.
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Old 14th Aug 2010, 14:29
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Originally Posted by Throw a Dyce
Sounds like the system isn't safe to use then.
Try telling management that!
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Old 14th Aug 2010, 15:26
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Throw a Dyce, you may say that. I couldn't possibly comment!!
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