London City Airport is the world’s first major international airport to be fully controlled by a remote digital air traffic control tower.
All flights landing or taking off from London City airport this summer will be guided by controllers at the air traffic control center 115km away. This air traffic control center uses “enhanced reality” view supplied by a digital control tower.
The 360-degree view of London City Airport airfield is captured by sixteen high-definition cameras and sensors mounted on the mast. The live footage will be relayed to NATS’ air traffic control center in Swanwick along with audio feed from the airfield and radar information. The team of controllers here will use this data to instruct the aircraft’s movement in and out of the airport.
The live feed is transmitted through independent secure fiber networks and displayed on 14 HD screens in the control room to provide the panoramic moving image. Information such as altitude, aircraft speed, weather readings, the ability to track moving objects is included in the screen. Pan-tilt-zoom cameras allow up to 30 times the magnification of images.
The new system in London City was built by Saab Digital Air Traffic Solutions, a Swedish aerospace group and has been installed at several of Sweden’s airports.
Alison FitzGerald, Chief Operating Officer at London City Airport, said: “We are immensely proud to become the first major international airport to adopt this pioneering technology.
“This investment in smart infrastructure will help us meet future growth in passenger demand, improve air traffic management and give us enhanced capability as aviation bounces back from the pandemic.
Juliet Kennedy, Operations Director at NATS, said: “Digital tower technology tears up a blueprint that’s remained largely unchanged for 100 years, allowing us to safely manage aircraft from almost anywhere, while providing our controllers with valuable new tools that would be impossible in a traditional control tower.”