Digital first for London airport
Written by: Philip Mason | Published:
Photo credit: IXS_7624 by Leon Brocard, CC 2.0

London City Airport has approved the development of a new digital air traffic control tower, which will be the first of its kind in the UK.

Plans for the tower include the deployment of 14 high-definition cameras - alongside two pan-tilt-zoom cameras -, intended to provide 360-degree, detailed views of the airfield and runway. Data from the devices will be sent via a secure network to London City’s new operations room at the NATS control centre, situated in Swanwick, Hampshire.

The project is being developed in partnership with Saab Digital Air Traffic Solutions, whose technology is already in use at Örnsköldsvik and Sundsvall airports in Sweden.

According to London City, through this, controllers will have access to real-time intelligence, enabling them to build an “augmented reality live view of the airfield.” This will include weather information, radar data, and aircraft call signs. They will also be able to track moving objects.

Speaking of the new control tower, CEO of London City Airport Declan Collier said: “A pioneering new digital air traffic control system will enhance safety and improve resilience, setting a new standard for the global aviation industry to follow. With London City Airport’s plans to grow - and an existing tower which is reaching the end of its operational lifespan - this cutting edge, proven, technology future-proofs our air traffic control for the next 30 years and beyond.”

Johan Klintberg, CEO of Saab Digital Air Traffic Solutions, said: “Saab Digital Air Traffic Solutions is the world’s leading provider of remote and digital tower technology. Having a key international airport such as London City trust in our solution demonstrates that it is scalable, bringing the benefits of digitalisation to airport operators, unconstrained by their size or location.”

Construction on the 50-metre digital tower will begin later this year, located in the airport’s long-stay car park. It is scheduled to be completed by 2018, before becoming operational the year after.

The project will coincide with the beginning of London City Airport’s new development programme, which will enable an additional two million passengers a year to use the airport by 2025. The programme includes seven new aircraft stands to accommodate next-generation aircraft, and a terminal extension to accommodate increasing passenger numbers.

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