• Project ID RETINA
  • Project duration 2016-03-01 > 2018-02-28
  • Cost
    • Total EUR 1 072 910
    • EU Contr. EUR 949 160
  • Status Ongoing


Background and Objectives

The increasing interest in Synthetic Vision (SV) and Augmented Reality (AR) technologies has led various analysts to positively esteem the adoption of new tools enabling pilots and controllers to seamlessly operate under Visual Meteorological Conditions and Instrument Meteorological Conditions. The RETINA (Resilient Synthetic Vision for Advanced Control Tower Air Navigation Service Provision) project will investigate the potential and applicability of SV tools and Virtual/Augmented Reality (V/AR) display techniques for the Air Traffic Control (ATC) service provision by the airport control tower.

Within the project, several concepts and basic principles that have been observed in different areas (e.g. Remote Tower, Synthetic Vision Systems, AR, Information Technologies, etc.) will be brought to the level of maturity required for the Applied Research that will be conducted in SESAR V1-V3 (Applied Research, Industrial Research & Validation). To this end, a 3D airport model will be developed, along with V/AR based human-computer interfaces. The digital model will provide controllers with precise positioning for both aerial and terrestrial objects, drawing information from multiple, simulated, data sources, such as the System Wide Information Management (SWIM) network, Remote Towers sensing technologies and other well-established surveillance systems – e.g. Airport Surveillance Radar (ASR) and the Surface Movement Radar (SMR). The interface design will be based on the Ecological Interface Design approach. Finally, the project will investigate the impact of the newly conceived tools on the control tower air traffic management procedures. On the whole, those tasks that are negatively affected by poor visibility conditions, such as bad weather, fog, smoke, dust or any other kind of environmental occlusion, will become weather-independent. The RETINA project primarily relates to SESAR ER-06-2015 - High Performing Airport Operations - Improved Visualisation and Awareness, but also has a secondary relationship to SESAR ER-03-2015 - Information Management in ATM.

Work performed and achievements so far

The present report covers the first semester of activities performed by the RETINA Consortium in the following Work Packages: WP1, WP5, WP6 and WP7.

WP1 sets up the baseline for the other WP, identifying the state of the art in terms of displays technologies, data sources and standards. The work performed was dedicated to the compilation and analysis of the relevant state of art and the production of initial concept requirements together with a task analysis for low and normal visibility conditions. This work was recorded in the deliverable D1.1 that exhausts all the activities foreseen in WP1.
The main objective for WP5 is to create a public and scientific interest on RETINA outcomes and ensuring their commercial usability. In this context, partners have defined a shared a dissemination and exploitation plan, in order to broadcast step-by-step results and to make the technical and scientific panorama aware of project developments. At this stage, the dissemination actions aimed at realizing a visible, meaningful and recognisable graphic concept for the RETINA project, while raising interest about the project within potential stakeholders.
The overall objective of WP6, as indicated in the DOA, is the smooth implementation of the RETINA project. To this aim, an effort was put in the first semester to define a shared Project Management Plan and facilitate its practical implementation. This resulted in a punctual and harmonized accomplishment Ref. Ares(2016)6205909 - 31/10/2016 2 of the project objectives set for the first semester. The whole consortium has met periodically by webex and two times by face during the first six months.
A specific Work Package (WP7) dedicated to Ethics Requirement has been added to the RETINA Project during the negotiation phase and six deliverables have been produced by the Consortium during the first semester.

Expected potential impact

The proposed solutions will provide high-quality 4D information (position, height and speed over time) to concerned actors in any operational condition (traffic, weather, airport complexity, etc.), thus improving the overall controllers’ situational awareness.
Significant benefits are expected for the whole aviation system, including, but not limited to:

  • financial savings for carriers and ANSP,
  • improved safety for passengers,
  • environmental pollution reduction, and
  • increased resilience and efficacy for the control tower IT systems.

In 2014, within the European Civil Aviation Conference Area an average delay per flight of 9.7 minutes was developed. Further analysis of the rationale behind the delay show that 0.51 min are due to weather, mainly strong wind and low visibility conditions. However, this does not account for cancelled or redirected flights. The proposed solution will allow Secondary Surveillance Radar (SSR) equipped aircraft to operate at synthetic vision equipped airports thus improving the overall
air traffic system capacity and, indirectly, alleviating congestion on nearby airports. Complex airports will benefit from the implementation of such technology by preserving airport capacity level in all weather conditions, even when Low Visibility Procedures apply.
This will result in substantial financial savings for carriers and larger incomes for ANSP. Also, with fewer delay, a reduction of the environmental impact of flights in terms of fuel burnt, emissions, CO2, etc. will be achieved.
Smaller airports will benefit from the implementation of the RETINA concepts by enabling a visual tracking/surveillance system, by means of limited investments with respect to those required for a an A-SMGCS system. Such implementation will allow extending the provision of cost-effective Air Traffic Services (ATS) to those airports where only the Aerodrome Traffic Information Service (AFIS) is provided (either remotely or locally operated). Definitely, the RETINA concept could highly
contribute to establish a satisfactory level of safety for smaller airports, where traffic volume is simply too low to pay back for the initial investment in a SMR equipment. Side effects, such as the increase of traffic volume at smaller or peripheral airports due to a better level of quality of service must not be neglected. Small aircraft could be used on a more frequent basis for passenger transportation or freight service, with positive social impact on the community living in the airport surrounding. However, the number of operations is expected to increase in the medium term and more airport equipage might be needed.
All in all, whatever the airport complexity is, RETINA will design technological and operational concepts for the use of AR and SV in a manned control tower facility, identifying relevant issues, such as inadequate procedures or standardisation, and proposing solutions.
The project will push the TRL for such technologies from 1 to 2 and consolidate the leading role of European companies (ANSPs and industries) into the future Air Navigation Services provision market.
The RETINA project will also exploit the SWIM concept allowing for a cost effective standardisation and better re-use of data sets and services between the control tower IT systems. With no need for duplicates, significant savings for all ANSP will be achieved.


This project has received funding from the SESAR Joint Undertaking under the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 699370

European Union