Remote tower technology gains pioneer interest

Today’s regulatory green light for Saab’s innovative remote tower technology lays the foundation for far wider acceptance within the industry as pioneer air traffic control agencies start selecting systems to deliver the advanced concept, writes Aimée Turner.

Swedish regulators today cleared its national air navigation service provider LFV for the critical flight safety aspects of remote tower technology. That means LFV’s Sundsvall remote tower centre will now go into operation this autumn, allowing its airport in Örnsköldsvik to become the first in the world to be remotely controlled.

But the Saab solution is not alone at the technology vanguard.

In April DFS chief executive Klaus-Dieter Scheurle said the German air navigation services organisation would introduce remote control at the regional airports of Dresden, Erfurt and Saarbrücken from the control tower in Leipzig.

Systems and cameras will be selected, installed and validated this August and if the validation phase proves successful, Saarbrücken will be the first remotely controlled airport from 2016. Erfurt and Dresden will then follow from 2018. Depending on traffic volume, other airports in Germany might follow.

“Tower controllers at the airports will be relocated or retire,” said Scheurle. “At smaller airports with low air traffic volume, a controller’s proficiency and know-how can better be used at a central tower centre, leading to more efficiency and reduced costs in the future.”

Meanwhile Saab Sensis’ securing of the regulatory green light for its remote tower technology which underwent certification in two Swedish locations is also being tested in Australia for Airservices Australia and in Norway for Avinor.

Speaking at this year’s World ATM Congress, Saab Sensis’ Ken Kaminski reported that its system will be a candidate for Avinor which is procuring a nationwide rollout of an initial 15 remote towers, with an option for 75 further installations. Competitor systems are expected from Indra, Frequentis and Searidge Technologies.

New Zealand is also understood to be focussed on an initial rollout of remote tower technology at 12 airports.

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