London City Airport is installing the first remote digital air traffic control tower in the UK. To be operational in 2019, the newly-constructed tower will use 360-degee high-definition cameras and sensors to provide a live feed with a panoramic view of the airfield to a new NATS control room in Swanwick, Hampshire.
NATS, the UK air traffic control services provider, is working closely with London City Airport (Booth Q106) on the plans for the new tower, which will be developed by Saab Digital Air Traffic Solutions and replace the existing 30-year-old control tower.
Fourteen high-definition cameras and two pan-tilt-zoom cameras will be stationed on top of the tower to provide the 360-degree view at a level of detail greater than the human eye, London City Airport officials said, while they noted this will modernize and improve air traffic management.
The images and data will be sent to the new operations room at the Swanwick NATS control center, where air traffic controllers will provide services using 14 high-definition displays. Controllers will have capabilities such as zoom and enhanced visuals, including close-up views of aircraft movements along the 1,500-meter (4,921-feet) runway. The pan-tilt-zoom cameras can magnify up to 30 times. The system will provide real-time information, including operational and sensor data, with an ability to overlay images with weather information, on-screen labels, radar data, and/or aircraft call signs.
“A pioneering new digital air traffic control system will enhance safety and improve resilience, setting a new standard for the global aviation industry to follow,” said London City Airport CEO Declan Collier.
“With London City Airport’s plans to grow, and an existing tower which is reaching the end of its operational lifespan, this cutting-edge proven technology future-proofs London City Airport’s air traffic control for the next 30 years and beyond,” added Mike Stoller, director of airports at NATS.
Officials are moving to add the tower as London City’s operations continue to increase, logging a record 4.5 million passengers in 2016. Construction will begin later this year and is slated to be completed in 2018. The tower will be tested for more than a year.