London City Airport has become the first international airport in the world to be fully controlled by a remote digital air traffic control tower. This is the latest application of a technology, the groundwork for which was laid by SESAR JU members and partners over the last decade.
Implemented by SESAR JU members, NATS and Saab, the 50-metre tower will enable traffic to be managed by controllers 115 kms away at NATS’ air traffic control centre in Swanwick, Hampshire using an ‘enhanced reality’ view supplied by the tower.
“This investment in smart infrastructure will help us meet future growth in passenger demand, improve air traffic management and give us future capability as the aviation industry bounces back from the pandemic,” said Alison FitzGerald, chief operating officer at London City Airport.
“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,” said Juliet Kennedy, operations director at NATS.
The digital tower technology has progressed in leaps and bounds over the last decade thanks to the work of SESAR JU members and partners. This research and innovation led to the first single remote tower deployment at Sweden's Örnsköldsvik Airport in 2014, which in many ways has become the template for ensuing deployments.
“Having worked on the first digital tower implementation in Sweden, I am immensely proud to see how far we have come with this latest installation with NATS at London City Airport,” says Niclas Gustavsson, Vice President Business Development & Governmental Affairs, SAAB Digital Air Traffic Solutions.
“This is an important milestone not just for Saab, but also for the SESAR research and innovation programme, which laid the groundwork by bringing together manufacturers, clients and users to develop, test and prove the safety and efficiency of this pioneering technology. It is thanks to that support that the technology is now taking off, offering very smart and sustainable solutions to the aviation industry,” he added.
Read full press release by NATS
Read about SESAR R&D on remote towers