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​NTU and CAAS extend partnership in Air Traffic Management research

Published on: 08-Feb-2018

NRBanner Signing at Airshow 2018 - Copy.jpg

Up to S$61 million to be invested in research in artificial intelligence and data science for ATM

The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) and Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) have extended their collaboration in the Air Traffic Management Research Institute (ATMRI) for another five years. The two parties have committed an initial S$43 million in joint funds, and will invest up to another S$18 million subject to programme needs, to develop solutions to improve airspace and airport capacity, as well as to enhance the safety and efficiency of flight operations.

The collaboration extension agreement was signed by Mr Soh Poh Theen, Deputy Director-General (Air Navigation Services), CAAS, and Professor Lam Khin Yong, Vice-President (Research), NTU Singapore on the sidelines of the Singapore Airshow 2018. 

Over the next five years, up to 2023, NTU’s ATMRI will engage in five areas of research to develop the next generation of air traffic management solutions. They are in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Data Science; Urban Aerial Transport Traffic Management and Systems; Regional Air Traffic Management Modernisation; Exploratory Studies of Emerging Technologies, and Talent Development, with a focus on innovation.

NTU President Prof Subra Suresh, said, “The research coming out from ATMRI has been very promising and the expanded research focus over the next five years will build on NTU’s expertise in robotics, artificial intelligence and data science.

“With NTU’s strengths in these areas and Singapore having one of the world’s best airports, together we can make Singapore a world leader in air traffic management. NTU has strong capabilities in AI and data science, which can be applied to the aviation sector in new ways to bring about greater efficiency and safety.”

Prof Suresh added: “These intelligent technologies will be developed at the NTU Smart Campus and rigorously tested at our research facilities, which will pave the way for future solutions that will allow Singapore to remain competitive as a world-class aviation hub.”

Mr Kevin Shum, Director-General of CAAS, said, “ATMRI is well-placed to build on its good achievements. The projects they have undertaken thus far have delivered useful insights and meaningful results. In the next phase of our collaboration, we plan to explore artificial intelligence, data science, as well as other emerging technologies to elevate Singapore’s air traffic management capabilities.  By leveraging technology, we will be able to manage even higher volumes of traffic whilst maintaining the highest levels of safety and service standards.”

NTU Vice President (Research) Professor Lam Khin Yong, said that developing innovation and training talents will continue to be NTU’s main objectives at ATMRI, in addition to conducting research to find new disruptive technologies and solutions.

“NTU has a strong track record of innovation and industry collaborations, which see research concepts translated into real-world applications that have a tangible impact. By leveraging our deep expertise in robotics and autonomous vehicles, we are able to create new applications for air traffic management, such as robotic aircraft taxiing and autonomous air control guidance for urban unmanned aircraft systems,” said Prof Lam.


Media contacts:

Lester Kok
Corporate Communications Office
Nanyang Technological University
Tel: 6790 6804

Michelle Teo
Assistant Director, Corporate Communications
Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore
Tel: +65 6541 2086

About the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore

The mission of the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) is to grow a safe, vibrant air hub and civil aviation system, making a key contribution to Singapore's success.  CAAS' roles are to oversee and promote safety in the aviation industry, develop the air hub and aviation industry, provide air navigation services, provide aviation training for human resource development, and contribute to the development of international civil aviation.

For more information, visit 

About Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
A research-intensive public university, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) has 33,500 undergraduate and postgraduate students in the colleges of Engineering, Business, Science, Humanities, Arts, & Social Sciences, and its Interdisciplinary Graduate School. It also has a medical school, the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, set up jointly with Imperial College London.
NTU is also home to world-class autonomous institutes – the National Institute of Education, S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Earth Observatory of Singapore, and Singapore Centre for Environmental Life Sciences Engineering – and various leading research centres such as the Nanyang Environment & Water Research Institute (NEWRI) and Energy Research Institute @ NTU (ERI@N).

Ranked 11th in the world, NTU has also been placed the world’s top young university for the last four years running. The University’s main campus is frequently listed among the Top 15 most beautiful university campuses in the world and has 57 Green Mark-certified (equivalent to LEED-certified) buildings, of which 54 are certified Green Mark Platinum. NTU also has a campus in Novena, Singapore’s medical district.

For more information, visit 



ATMRI - Key milestones (2013- 2018)

Since 2013, NTU scientists at ATMRI have published over 102 academic papers in the areas of Air Traffic Management (ATM) and aviation-related fields. As part of talent development for Singapore, 27 PhD students and 75 researchers have been trained, with 141 undergraduate Final Year Projects and 31 internships completed.

Air Traffic Management for Unmanned Aircraft Systems

ATMRI projects include industry collaborations, such as developing a new traffic management concept for unmanned aircraft systems, which were first announced in Dec 2016. In Dec 2017, NTU researchers also did a demonstration of Singapore’s first automated flight of an unmanned aircraft using a 4.5G mobile network. A joint project with communications provider M1, this proof of concept showcases the possibility of using commercial networks for the Command and Control Link needed to manage the air traffic for unmanned aircraft systems.

Regional Airspace Capabilities Enhancement with ASEAN

Another key deliverable of ATMRI was to enhance the ATM capacity of some of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) states. To date, researchers have worked with Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam to analyse their air traffic and operational procedures. ATMRI also suggested solutions for these countries, to optimise air traffic, reduce travel delays and to increase the number of aircrafts that the airports can handle.

To keep ASEAN states appraised of the air traffic demand and potential growth, ATMRI generated biannual reports and growth forecasts. For instance, these reports included the direct comparison of potential flight routes versus current flight routes, which can open up more business opportunities for airlines and airports.

Advanced R&D Facilities

ATMRI also built one of the world’s most advanced Tower Control and Radar Control simulator facilities for research and development, which can model and simulate any conditions of regional airports, including Changi Airport. This allows for the testing and validation of new concepts and solutions developed by ATMRI, such as AI assistants for air traffic management, or a smart efficient workstation that can improve the speed of radar controllers while monitoring their fatigue levels.

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