London City Airport's flights to be controlled from 70 miles away

Fri May 19, 2017 7:16am EDT
 
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By Costas Pitas

LONDON (Reuters) - If you fly into London City in two years' time, air traffic controllers won't see your plane through a window but will guide it down from screens 70 miles away as the airport becomes one of the first in a major capital to use a digital control tower.

Staff will monitor planes with the help of high-tech 360-degree cameras and sensors fitted to a newly constructed tower, with data and a panoramic views all feeding through to the national air traffic control center in the southern town of Swanwick.

The airport, which is undergoing a 350 million pound ($455 million) expansion, is located near the Canary Wharf financial center in east London and used by over 4.5 million passengers mainly for business travel between Europe's major centers.

But from 2019, controllers will be based over 110 km away where the airport says an array of digital tools will improve their awareness of situations and efficiency, allowing for quick decision-making.

"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," London City Airport Chief Executive Declan Collier said.

"This cutting edge proven technology future-proofs London City Airport's air traffic control for the next 30 years and beyond," he said.

The current control tower is reaching the end of its operational lifespan, he said, with the new technology already in use at Sweden's smaller Ornskoldsvik and Sundsvall airports.

Controllers will be equipped with a range of tools including a close-up view of aeroplane movements along the 1.5-km runway and cameras which can zoom in up to 30 times for close inspection.   Continued...

 
FILE PHOTO: Aircraft stand idle at City Airport after a protest closed the runway causing flights to be delayed, in London, Britain September 6, 2016. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh/File Photo