Saab’s Remote Tower: A New Paradigm in Air Traffic Control Systems

With challenges like huge expansion of air traffic, many new airports with fast deployment and lack of trained Air Traffic Control Officers (ATCO) there is a need for new way of managing the air traffic services.

Air traffic services, such as landing instructions, are traditionally provided to pilots from controllers sitting in a tower at the airport. Controllers use their eyes, binoculars and radar for situational awareness of the airport surface and surrounding airspace and communicate commands and information to the pilots by radio.
With the advent of camera technologies, greater communications bandwidth and air traffic control tool automation, there is now a cost effective alternative to current operations: the Remote Tower. The Remote Tower offers the same level of service by replacing the tower with cameras and other sensors that are streamed in real-time to a remote location where a certified controller performs his or her tasks.

 The Saab Remote Tower uses multiple sensors, such as video cameras, surveillance sources, meteorological sensors, microphones and signal light guns deployed at an airport that are streamed in real-time to a Remote Tower Center (RTC) where trained controllers operate the airport in a manner similar to a manned tower. At the RTC, controllers view the airport on projection or LCD screens of up to 360-degrees and have the same tools at their disposal as they would have in the tower, including electronic flight strips, radar displays and remote control of airfield devices.
The Saab Remote Tower Technologies have been deployed to Sundsvall and Ornskoldsvik Airports in Sweden, feeding the RTC in Sundsvall. This system has passed Site Acceptance Testing (SAT) and is now under review by the Swedish transportation ministry for certification. Operational certification from Transportstyrelsen is expected in early 2014. This will be the first operational certification of a remote tower system in the world.
Saab’s remote tower technology is providing Avinor Aerodrome Flight Information Services (AFIS) offices at the Bodø Remote Tower center the video of daily helicopter operations at Værøy in Norway, and the system in Værøy has passed SAT. The system will provide AFIS advisory services. The remote tower technology is also being deployed to Røst Airport in Norway and it is undergoing SAT.
Saab is working with Airservices Australia on a demonstration system at Alice Springs Airport.