In late 2009 Entry Point North, who run an Air Traffic Management academy in Malmö, Sweden, commissioned contractors Micro Nav Ltd with the implementation of a new 270° 6-channel simulator.
Bedford-based Paradigm AV, in turn, was introduced to design two arrays of six 120” New Wide Angle (NWA) rear projection screens from their Danish suppliers, dnp. Thanks to some inspired bespoke engineering, they constructed a wide, almost seamless vista — using twin-mirror projection rigs and ‘minimal mullions’ — through which the trainees could view different scenarios fed from Micro Nav’s Image Generators.
At the time, Paradigm AV managing director, Paul Wood, explained that by using the company’s ViewFlex rig design with twin front surface mirrors and additional micro-adjusters they could ensure the geometry of the image was maintained and accurately positioned.
After tests, Paradigm also designed baffles to remove any extraneous light, and prevent it from hitting the adjacent screens. “Without these baffles the light would simply have washed out images abutting to the target screen area,” he said.
The ATM academy was able to show a representation of the airport model that the training simulators use on its own system — via a combination of the Micro Nav BEST software and the Imagine software for the visuals.
So impressive was the effect that other customers wanted the immersive simulator to go even further — and become a full 360° view, according to Flemming Tidselholdt, Entry Point North’s Head of Systems & Development for the International Air Traffic Management Academy.
In order that two further 120in NWA displays could be added (along with Canon SX60 LCOS 2500 ANSI lumens projectors), Paradigm AV’s Operations Manager, Steve Pratt paid two visits before proposing a push-button motorised entry solution to the now eight-channel display — since access to the 360° environment was not possible via the conventional staircase method.
“We decided to motorise one of the channels using a linear track actuator, which incorporates torque vectoring technology. We mounted the projection rig onto a low friction liner-bearing rail to allow minimal force required from the actuator to move the rig in and out. This allowed us to use the torque monitoring facility within the Siemens Micromaster 440 which controlled the actuator’s motor — making the moving rig extremely sensitive to any obstructions it might incur whilst in motion, and therefore safe.”
At the same time as finalising this solution, Paradigm also implemented the second tower.
In addition to the two 360° towers Entry Point North also has 11 small 180° tower simulators, for the training of ab-initio students or experienced air traffic controllers (ATCO’s) taking the mandatory refresher training. “We have every feature you can think of to enable ATCOs to replicate the environment, with any scenario on each of the eight channels fed by its own generator. We can simulate the same exercises in 360° or 180°,” stated Flemming Tidselholdt.
Paul Wood believes that this approach has many advantages over the original display wall cubes, which were replaced during the first phase of the contract. “Fewer projectors makes cost and engineering savings and we have provided a large unbroken image area. We knew that if the system ever needed upgrading in the future only the projectors would need changing — ticking all the boxes from a sustainability standpoint. And this is precisely what has happened.”