Economy

London airport's new control tower won't have anyone inside

London airport's new control tower won't have anyone inside

"This cutting edge proven technology future-proofs London City Airport's air traffic control for the next 30 years and beyond", he said.

The ground controllers will be moved to digital viewing rooms at the Swanwick base of Nats, Britain's air traffic control provider.

Information collected at London CIty will be transferred by three digital feeds to a screen in Swanwick, one of two Nats' air traffic control centres in the UK.

It will provide controllers with a 360-degree view of the airfield via 14 high-definition cameras and two cameras which are able to pan, tilt and zoom.

The system has been tried and tested in Australia, Ireland and Norway and is already in use at Örnsköldsvik and Sundsvall airports in Sweden.

In a first for a United Kingdom airport, the tower will feature 14 HD cameras and two pan-tilt-zoom cameras, providing a 360-degree view of the airfield "in a level of detail greater than the human eye and with new viewing tools that will modernise and improve air traffic management".

Images will be sent to the NATS centre via independent and secure super-fast fibre networks.

Controllers will use the live footage alongside an audio feed of ambient noise from the airfield and radar readings from the skies above London to instruct aircraft and oversee movements. "Having a key global airport such as London City Airport trust in our solution demonstrates that it is scalable, bringing the benefits of digitalisation to airport operators, unconstrained by their size or location".

London City Airport chief executive Declan Collier said he is "absolutely confident" that 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.

London City Airport will be the first in the United Kingdom to replace its air traffic controllers with a remotely operated digital system.

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.

Construction of the 50-metre digital tower will begin later this year on a site located in the airport's long-stay auto park.

After more than a year of testing, it is expected to become fully operational in autumn 2019.

It comes as the airport starts construction on its £350m City Airport development programme, aimed to bring in two million more passengers per year by 2025.

Some 4.5million passengers used London City Airport past year.


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