Last month saw the conclusion of four development simulations for the implementation of  Intelligent Approach (IA) at Schiphol airport, which were co-ordinated by Think with support from NATS IA air traffic controller (ATCo) lead. Think’s involvement in the simulation journey began back in February this year when the Think Sarahs (McLarty and Cavanagh) took to the skies and flew to Amsterdam to visit LVNL, the Dutch Air Navigation Service Provider. The aim of the visit was to ensure the concept of operations (ConOps), developed by NATS, Think, Leidos and LVNL over the previous months is validated by the most effective simulation design (e.g. runway combinations, traffic patterns and wind conditions).  It was around this time that the murmurings of Coronavirus had begun and little did we realise how quicky the situation would escalate.  

The surge of the pandemic meant that the tightly packed simulation schedule faced potential jeopardy, as NATS Whiteley where the simulations were due to be hosted, temporarily closed its doors. However, against the odds, the simulations went ahead with a lot of careful planning and organisation from Think, NATS, Leidos and LVNL. Read more about the socially distanced simulations here.  

Since June all four simulations have been conducted at NATS Whiteley, with the final day taking place on the 23rd October. Why so many simulations you ask? Well, it’s all in the name – Development. The IA software was delivered in a number of software build ‘drops’, with new functionality added over time. In addition, the IA concept for Schiphol airport has undergone a number of refinements over the course of each simulation activity, based on the feedback gathered from the concept experts, ATCo participants, Safety experts and the LVNL (remote) observers.  This ensures that the final product supports the LVNL Schiphol operation safely and effectively. The Think team have had a major part to play in this development in collaboration with NATS, Leidos and LVNL.

From Left to Right: Irene Bravo (Think Research); Andy Garrett (NATS IA ATCO Lead); Kuldip Jagdev (NATS IA Systems Engineer); Norm Easter (NATS Heathrow Approach ATCO); Dave Whitworth (NATS Heathrow Approach ATCO); Sarah Cavanagh (Think Research); Kevin Harris (NATS IA Product Owner).