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Fully in the picture with "Digital Graffiti" – Siemens solution helps pilots find their way around airfields


Munich, Sep 27, 2006 - A lot of people have little time for colorful aerosol daubings on bridges and house walls, but electronic graffiti may soon become a popular sight at airports as a means of helping pilots find their way around. Together with Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH, Siemens has successfully tried out a solution at Hanover Airport designed to simplify navigation for pilots while they are on the ground, and also make monitoring easier for staff in the control tower. Essentially, the idea involves hanging mobile radio messages in mid-air - like floating electronic signposts.

While airborne, pilots always know exactly where they are and where they are going; on the ground, this isn’t so easy. In order to find their designated parking position, the crew has to fall back on signs, ground lighting, site plans, radar or instructions from the control tower. But radar is not always able to pinpoint their exact position to a matter of meters, at least not without a lot of effort. In addition, radio traffic is often overloaded and darkness or fog, unclear taxiway markings or even just the sheer size of the airport make if difficult to know exactly where you are going.

The new “Digital Graffiti” solution from Siemens Business Services and Siemens Corporate Technology may be the answer. With this approach, Siemens makes use of the technological option of storing mobile radio messages at particular locations for specific receivers, literally suspending them in mid-air. The message is not passed on to the designated recipient until they have reached the agreed location.

In terms of air traffic, this works as follows: when approaching or moving along the landing strip, the plane picks up the constantly updated plan of the airfield, which shows the planned parking position and the correspondingly marked taxiway, including all sites for construction work and any areas that are blocked off. A digital route is displayed on a screen in the cockpit, and the crew simply has to follow it. This system naturally also works in the other direction, i.e. from the parking position to the runway.

In certain cases, the system is significantly more precise than conventional ground radar, as the GPS receiver on the plane reports its position to the tower once every second. As a result, the tower can track the progress of the plane with an error margin of only a few meters.

This solution not only enables both plane and passengers to get to the gate more quickly, it could also allow airports and air safety to do away permanently with expensive facilities such as ground radar, sensors and the associated reception systems. The solution is particularly attractive for airports that have not yet installed any ground monitoring equipment.

A picture can be obtained at:

Siemens Business Services is an internationally leading IT service provider.
This Siemens Group offers services all along the entire value chain – from consulting to systems integration, right through to the management of IT infrastructures. Thanks to its comprehensive know-how and sector-specific expertise, the company provides measurable added value for its customers. With regard to outsourcing, Siemens Business Services is among the top ten providers worldwide. With around 39,000 employees, the Group posted sales in fiscal 2005 (ending 30 September 2005) of EUR 5.4 billion, 75 percent of which was achieved outside the Siemens organization. Further information at

Information number: SBS 270906.38e


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