New Digital Air Traffic Control Innovation for London City Airport

Architectural_drawing_of_London_City_Airport_digital_tower_post-development_facing_westLondon City Airport announced last month that it will be the first airport in the UK to replace its on-site Air Traffic Control tower with a remotely operated digital system.

As part of a £350 million redevelopment of London City Airport in its 30th anniversary year, also including the construction of additional aircraft stands and a terminal extension, the airport will build a 50 metre tall digital tower, due to be completed by 2018. The tower will be fitted with 14 high-definition digital cameras, which will feed information via cables to Swanick, Hampshire – 80 miles away. Once built, the system will be intensively tested for a year before coming fully operational in 2019.

Air traffic controllers will receive a 360? view of the runway and its surrounding area, via three separate, independent cables, each following a different route for security reasons. Controllers will be able to enhance their position with augmented reality; overlaying radar images, weather information and flight tagging information onto high-definition images of aircraft relayed in real-time, with detail better than that of the human eye. These sophisticated tools will allow London City Airport to futureproof its air traffic control systems, with controllers enjoying improved situational awareness, enhancing safety and operational benefits for the airport.

The system has been developed by Saab Digital Air Traffic Solutions in Sweden, and has been tested in Australia, Ireland, Sweden and Norway, and is already in use at two airports in Sweden. London City Airport will be working with NATS, the commercial arm of the UK air traffic services provider.

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