Photo: Saab Sensis
Air traffic controllers have long worked far above the ground, in towers built to give them a clear view of the airport around them. Like so much of the aviation industry, that setup may fundamentally change, thanks to new technology.Saab Sensis, an air defence and air traffic control corporation, wants to separate the controllers from the airports.
The Remote Tower premise is straightforward: Cameras and sensors relay images and information from the airport to an off-site controller in just .3 seconds.
It is cost-effective. Tall structures supporting offices and human beings are replaced by what look like water towers, loaded with cameras and sensors. A single controller could efficiently manage multiple small airports, reducing the need for personnel at each one.
Saab Sensis Director of Business Development Per Ahl notes that as a remote tower can be set up relatively quickly, it could replace outdated or damaged conventional towers. It also provides a solution to line-of-sight problems posed by the construction of new terminals.
Ahl said air traffic controllers who tested the system and provided feedback “are excited by the possibilities [of] the remote tower concept.”
The biggest challenge will not be winning over potential employees, however. For understandable reasons, aviation regulations are strict, and hard to change.
To prove the Remote Tower is effective and reliable, Saab Sensis has been operating an airport in Ängleholm, Sweden from a site more than 60 miles away. Other trials are set to begin in Australia and Norway later this year.
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