How to switch to digital operation

Going from a conventional tower to a fully operational digital tower solution, approved by the authorities, is something few have done. But it is a journey that Saab Digital Air Traffic Solutions has performed many times since the company launched the world’s first operational digital tower in early 2015.

Saab Digital Air Traffic Solutions CEO Johan Klintberg explains the process. Or processes, actually. “In essence, it’s three processes that are intertwined with each other,” says Johan. “The certification process, the technical implementation, and the change management process.”

The first process, gaining approval or certification from the authorities, starts with building a good relationship with everyone involved. It’s about laying the foundation for good discussions and making sure that necessary input and information are exchanged in a transparent way. It is crucial that the people who are going to put the seal of approval on the solution and approve it for operation truly understand every part of it. It also important that they come along throughout the journey, from start to finish.

After that, the process of putting the technology in place is comparatively straightforward. It has its start and finish, with predetermined steps in between. It’s not to be taken lightly, but it is nonetheless a type of process that has been undertaken many times before.

The last step, the change management process, is just as important as the two previous ones in order to achieve a successful result. And just like the approval process, the change process is open-ended. It is all about preparing the organisation for the new ways of working. And as most people know, change always has its challenges. We are all humans, and we each have our own individual change curves. The organisation needs to take them all into account to be able to make the transition.

So, going from a traditional tower to a digital tower solution certainly has its challenges. With experience to back you up, however, you increase the possibility of a successful result, so ultimately all three processes converge in an approved, ready-to-go digital tower solution, with an organisation that is well-prepared for the new way of working. And that experience you can only get from doing it over and over again, like Saab Digital Air Traffic Solutions has.