London City Airport (LCY) took a step forward in global air traffic management and became the first major international airport in the world to fully implement a remote digital air traffic control tower.
According to the airport statement released on April 30, 2021, the new remote digital air traffic control tower is equipped with 16 high-definition cameras and sensors which capture a 360-degree view of the LCY airfield. The innovative technology allows controllers 115 kilometers away in Swanwick-based National Air Traffic Services (NATS) to use the live footage as well as an audio feed and radar data from the airfield to remotely control aircraft movements at the airport.
The ATC controllers are also able to overlay digital data onto their screens as the enhanced reality view is supplemented with additional information such as call signs, aircraft altitude, and speed as well as weather readings and tracking data of moving objects. Besides, in order to provide a panoramic moving image, the technology transmits live data through independent secure fiber networks.
The Chief Operating Officer of London City Airport Alison FitzGerald said that the recent investment in smart infrastructure should help the airport to „meet future growth in passenger demand“ and “improve air traffic management” by giving an enhanced capability while awaiting aviation recovery.
“We are immensely proud to become the first major international airport to adopt this pioneering technology. […] It is also a demonstration of the commitment to innovation in the UK aviation sector and to being at the forefront of defining the future of flight,” FitzGerald was quoted in the LCY statement.
The digital control tower was completed in 2019 and had already been intensively tested during the lockdown before becoming fully operational. The new technology was also tested in other smaller airports including Ornskoldsvik (OER) and Sundsvall Timra Airport (SDL) in Sweden.
After intensive testing and live trials, the airport announced that it adjusted a new remote digital technology for the air traffic control tower in order to help LCY to meet an expected surge in air travel demand during the summer season as the government of the United Kingdom plans to ease the COVID-19 restrictions from May 17, 2021.