London City is set to become the first UK airport to create a digital air traffic control tower.
The airport’s new multi-million pound tower, which is set to become operational in 2019, will feature 360° HD cameras and sensors, with live views of the airfield and other data being sent to the NATS air traffic control room in Hampshire using superfast fibre.
The digital technology will allow controllers to use tools such as high-definition zoom and enhanced visual displays of all activity on the airport’s runway, including the ability to take close-up views of aircraft movements.
Declan Collier, London City’s CEO, 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 London City airport’s air traffic control for the next 30 years and beyond.”
Plans for the new 50-metre digital tower have already been approved by Newham Council with construction due to start later this year. The tower will be located in the airport’s current long-stay car park at the midway point of the runway.
The airport said the construction should be completed next year, which will be followed by more than a year of testing and training before it takes over from the existing original 30-year-old tower.
Mike Stoller, director of airports at NATS, added: “Digital towers are going to transform the way air traffic services are provided at airports by providing real safety, operational and efficiency benefits.
“We are delighted that London City airport has chosen to work with us to deliver what will be the first of its kind in the UK.”