Scottish Highlands, Islands mull remote ATC

The air navigation service provider responsible for the Highlands and Islands of Scotland is considering remote tower services at all eleven airports in addition to a remote tower centre as part of a strategic plan over the next decade.

State-owned Highlands and Islands Airport Limited’s (HIAL) mid to long term air traffic management strategy has placed remote tower technology high on the agenda to ensure a ‘more sustainable, more cost effective, and more environmentally friendly airspace environment’.

In a document outlining tender requirement for consultancy services, HIAL said the aim was to engage a suitably qualified consultant to undertake a comprehensive scoping study to provide the HIAL Board with the range of options.

It states that as well as meeting the company’s operational and business needs and satisfy stakeholder expectations after 2020, several complex and interdependent ATM projects must also be managed in a coordinated, integrated and incremental manner to reduce operational and business risk.

The four main elements of the strategy feature the replacement of standalone procedural air traffic services with a single centralised surveillance service; remote rowers at all eleven airports in addition to a remote tower centre; the introduction of controlled airspace at all seven controlled aerodromes and an out of hours centralised AFISO on-call service.

But fears that the strategy could lead to dozens of highly skilled and well paid transferred to one remote digital tower – thought likely to be based at Inverness – has angered trade union Prospect which said it would oppose attempts to move air traffic control jobs from the islands as HIAL had an obligation to be serving rural communities.

 

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