Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Money | By Armando Alvarado

Air traffic controllers to sit in virtual tower 80 miles from airport

Air traffic controllers to sit in virtual tower 80 miles from airport

London City Airport is set to become the first British airport to install a remotely operated digital air traffic control system, breaking with the century-long tradition of manned control towers.

Mike Stoller, director of airports at NATS, added: "Digital towers are going to transform the way air traffic services are provided at airports by providing real safety, operational and efficiency benefits".

The airport said it marks the start of a technological revolution in United Kingdom airport air traffic management.

The system, which has been developed by Swedish defence firm Saab, will be completed next year and will be fully tested before becoming operational in 2019 as part of a £350m investment to improve the hub. Controllers will be equipped with a range of tools including a close-up view of aeroplane movements along the 1.5-km runway and cameras which can zoom in up to 30 times for close inspection.

The hardware, supplied by Saab Digital Air Traffic Solution, is already being used at Örnsköldsvik and Sundsvall airports in Sweden.

Working closely with NATS, the United Kingdom provider of air traffic control services, London City Airport has approved plans for a new tower, at the top of which will be 14 High Definition cameras and two pan-tilt-zoom cameras.

Microsoft's free custom support could have stopped 'WannaCrypt'
If you find a problem, disconnect your machine immediately from the internet or other network connections (such as home Wi-Fi). The researcher, identified only as "MalwareTech", found a " kill switch " within the ransomware as he studied its structure.

Pictures from the airfield and data will be sent through independent and secure fibre networks to the operations room in Swanwick, the airport said.

London City Airport chief executive Declan Collier insisted he is "absolutely confident" the system is safe from the threat of a cyber attack.

Aircraft will be directed around by controllers watching live footage in Hampshire after the current tower is decommissioned in 2019. Staff will also have an audio feed from the airfield and radar readings to help them manage takeoffs and landings.

NATS is committing heavily to remote-tower technology, having recently opted to invest in a Canadian company, Searidge Technologies, which is involved with digital tower strategies.

The new tower will be in the airport's long-stay vehicle park, in line with the mid-way point of the runway, next to King George V Dock.

It is embarking on a £350million development programme including new aircraft stands and an extended terminal building to enable it to serve two million more passengers per year by 2025.

Like this: