The beginning of the end for air traffic control towers? London City Airport abandons its 30-year-old tower in favor of a new mast equipped with high-definition cameras monitored by controllers seated 70 miles away

  • 14HD cameras and two sensors are installed on top of a 50-meter-high mast at the airport
  • They can pan, tilt and zoom and send real-time footage to a control room
  • This is located 70 miles from the base of Swanwick, Hampshire of Nats
  • Air traffic controllers then use it to orchestrate landings and takeoffs
  • Bosses say system is impervious to cybercrime and performed well in two-year trial










London City became the first major airport in the world to abandon its traditional air traffic control tower and replace it with a mounted system of cameras and sensors.

The 50-meter (164-foot) high tower has 14 HD cameras that provide a 360 ° view of the airfield and the images are broadcast in real time to a control room 70 miles away.

Air traffic controllers use video to organize traffic and orchestrate takeoffs and landings at the airport.

The decision to go completely remote with the airport’s air traffic control comes after a successful two-year trial.

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The 50-meter (164-foot) high tower includes 14 HD (photo) cameras that provide a 360 ° view of the airfield and the images are broadcast in real time to a control room 70 miles away.

The 50-meter (164-foot) high tower includes 14 HD (photo) cameras that provide a 360 ° view of the airfield and the images are broadcast in real time to a control room 70 miles away.

Cameras and sensors can pan, tilt and zoom on demand and transmit a live feed to the Swanwick base of air traffic control provider Nats.

Three fiber networks connect the London-based tower to the Hampshire control room, providing back-up and back-up reserve in the event of a technical failure.

A live stream of images and audio from the airfield, as well as radar information, is displayed on 14 screens upon arrival at Swanwick.

The moving panoramic image can be overlaid with data such as aircraft call signs, altitude and speed, as well as weather readings.

Traditionally, air traffic controllers are seated in a tower overlooking the runway.

Nats Airports Manager Jonathan Astill said access to information means the digital system is “a better tool to use to separate planes” than the usual method.

Tower cameras and sensors can pan, tilt and zoom on demand and transmit a live feed to air traffic control provider Nats' Swanwick base (pictured)

Tower cameras and sensors can pan, tilt and zoom on demand and transmit a live feed to air traffic control provider Nats’ Swanwick base (pictured)

Three fiber networks connect the London-based mast (pictured) to the Hampshire control room, providing back-up and back-up reserve in the event of a technical failure

Three fiber networks connect the London-based mast (pictured) to the Hampshire control room, providing back-up and back-up reserve in the event of a technical failure

Traditionally, air traffic controllers are seated in a tower overlooking the runway.  (Pictured is the former air traffic control room at London City Airport).  Nats Airports Manager Jonathan Astill said access to information means the digital system is

Traditionally, air traffic controllers are seated in a tower overlooking the runway. (Pictured is the former air traffic control room at London City Airport). Nats Airports Manager Jonathan Astill said access to information means the digital system is “a better tool to use to separate planes” than the usual method

The remote tower technology was developed by Saab Digital Air Traffic Solutions and has been tested at remote airports in Sweden and two have been introduced at Cranfield airfield in Bedfordshire.

The remote tower technology was developed by Saab Digital Air Traffic Solutions and has been tested at remote airports in Sweden and two have been introduced at Cranfield airfield in Bedfordshire.

EasyJet chief says fleet ready for takeoff on May 17th

The easyJet boss urged the government to “take responsibility” and inform airlines and customers of its plans to ease travel restrictions.

CEO Johan Lundgren said the carrier was ready to carry passengers during their summer vacation, but remained in limbo without clarification on which travel lanes will be open in May.

Mr Lundgren also called on ministers to place popular destinations such as Spain, Portugal and Greece in the lowest risk category when holidays abroad resume.

But the travel chief has warned of chaos at airports if ministers fail to increase border resources in time for the restart.

Easyjet is using new research to declare that much of Europe should be declared ‘green’.

Mr Lundgren told BBC Radio 4’s Today show: ‘We have always said we will be ready when we are allowed to start flying again, which means we have basically kept the fleet in what we call conditions But it is clear that we now need to get some clarity on this.

“We need to know which countries are going to fall into which categories – red amber green, framework – and we need to know when that can start to happen, so time is running out. We urge the government to come out and communicate this.

“This improves the controller’s ability to access data and access information which then gives them better situational awareness,” he told the PA news agency.

Mr Astill said a number of other airports are “examining” what London City has done, adding: “This is definitely the future”.

He insisted that the connection between London City and Swanwick is “resistant to cyber attacks” and “very difficult to hack”.

The remote tower technology was developed by Saab Digital Air Traffic Solutions and has been tested at remote airports in Sweden and two have been introduced at Cranfield airfield in Bedfordshire.

London City COO Alison FitzGerald admitted it “always raises an eyebrow” to passengers when they are notified.

She insisted that the project “is not economical” for the airport.

“It’s not about removing air traffic controllers,” she said. “It’s more about making it safer and more efficient. “

Ms FitzGerald added that in the future, the system could potentially allow flights that were previously canceled or hijacked due to poor visibility to take off or land at the airport.

Construction of the new multi-million pound tower was completed in 2019, and the switch to fully remote air traffic control took place in January.

Only a handful of daily flights operate at the airport due to the coronavirus pandemic, but Ms FitzGerald said technology will cope as demand for travel increases once restrictions are relaxed.

She said she was “cautiously optimistic” for the summer season.

The airport forecasts that the number of passengers in August and September will reach 27% and 32% respectively of the same months in 2019.



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