Innovation

London City Airport Transforms Aviation With Digital Air Control Tower

Sam Pudwell joined Silicon UK as a reporter in December 2016. As well as being the resident Cloud aficionado, he covers areas such as cyber security, government IT and sports technology, with the aim of going to as many events as possible.

Controllers will have access to high-definition viewing tools and real-time sensory data

London City Airport is set to become the UK’s first airport to install a digital air traffic control tower as part of a £350 million development programme.

The new tower will feature 14 high-definition cameras and two pan-tilt-zoom cameras to provide a full 360-degree view of the airfield, enabling controllers to guide planes from screens located 70 miles away.

The airport has big hopes for the multi-million pound investment, carried out in partnership with air traffic control services provider NATS, saying it will provide significant safety benefits and improve operational efficiency.

air traffic control 2

Cleared for landing

The technology is already being used at Örnsköldsvik and Sundsvall airports in Sweden and gives employees access to a wide range of viewing tools, such as high-definition zoom and enhanced visuals.

The detailed views of activity on the airfield and of aircraft movements that these tools provide, combined with sensory information such as weather and radar data, enable an augmented reality-style view of the airfield to be built.

Controllers can then overlay images with vital information, significantly improving their situational awareness to enable faster and more informed decision-making.

A live feed, as well as real-time sensory and operational data, will be sent to a new control room based in Swanwick, Hampshire, via super-fast fibre connections.

“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 Declan Collier, CEO at London City Airport.

“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.”

Construction of the tower is due to be completed in 2018, followed by more than a year of testing and training before becoming fully operational in 2019.

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