London City Airport plans to become the first in the UK to operate a digital air traffic control tower – with controllers 80 miles away - marking the start of a ‘technological revolution in UK airport air traffic management’.
Working closely with air traffic control services provider NATS, the airport has approved plans for a new on-site tower, at the top of which will be 14 high definition cameras and two pan-tilt-zoom cameras.
The view from the virtual tower will include radar readings from the skies above London
The cameras will provide a full 360 degree view of the airfield in a level of detail greater than the human eye and with new viewing tools that will the airport said will modernise and improve air traffic management.
Images and data will then be sent via independent and secure super-fast fibre networks from ‘the only airport actually in London’ to a brand new operations room at the NATS control centre in Swanwick, Hampshire, from where air traffic controllers will perform their operational role.
Controllers will use the live footage displayed on 14 HD screens that form a 'seamless panoramic moving image', alongside the audio feed from the airfield and radar readings from the skies above London, to instruct aircraft and oversee movements.
Declan Collier, CEO at London City Airport, said: ‘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.’
Mike Stoller, director, airports at NATS, said: ‘Digital towers are going to transform the way air traffic services are provided at airports by providing real safety, operational and efficiency benefits, and we are delighted that London City Airport has chosen to work with us to deliver what will be the first of its kind in the UK.’
The 50-metre high digital tower was approved by the London Borough of Newham in December and construction will begin later this year. It is due to be completed in 2018 and will become fully operational in 2019.