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Published: Sun, May 21, 2017
Economy | By Melissa Porter

City Airport's remote control tower 'will transform' air traffic control

City Airport's remote control tower 'will transform' air traffic control

Controllers will be based at a new control room at the NATS facility in Swanwick, Hampshire and remotely control the ATC functions for the airport, east of London. That's coming to London soon.

London City's remote tower will be constructed at an operations room at the UK's main area control centre at Swanwick, some 110km south-west of the London airport.

He said: 'A pioneering new digital air traffic control tower system will enhance safety and improve resilience, setting a new standard for the global aviation industry to follow.

Together, these will provide a 360-degree view of the airfield in a level of detail greater than the human eye.

Paul Winstanley, chair of the Prospect union's air traffic controllers' branch welcomed the change but warned it would have to be introduced gradually.

London City Airport is to become the first airport in the United Kingdom to install a remotely operated air traffic control system.

It has already been tested in Australia, Sweden, Norway and Ireland. They'll be based at a larger NATS center where staff monitor the skies above the United Kingdom.

The airport chief executive Declan Collier added he was confident the system would be immune from the threat of cyber attacks.

There will be three private fiber connections between the tower and the control center, one for normal operations and two backup links, Beauchamp said.

The airport said that the technology would "significantly improve a controller's situational awareness, enabling quick and informed decisions that thereby offer safety and operational benefits for the airport".

About 4.5 million passengers used London's city center airport a year ago.

Building a new tower would cost around £10-£30 million, and the price of installing the digital system - developed by Saab Digital Air Traffic Solutions - is expected to be in a similar range. The digital air-traffic control system is part of a £350m upgrade to the airport, located in the Royal Docks close to Canary Wharf in London. It is popular with business travelers because it's easier to reach from the city's financial centers than Heathrow or Gatwick airports.

Airport management says the digital version will give controllers better oversight of the runway.

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