Remote air traffic control (ATC) technology is a breakthrough in air traffic services, and will transform the industry through greater flexibility, reduced costs, and enhanced safety. Sweden has two remotely controlled airports already in operation, and successful test installations have been set up in the U.S., Australia, the Netherlands, Norway and Ireland.
How Remote ATC Tower Systems Work
1) Cameras and sensors are installed at an airport.
2) Everything they record is sent digitally to an air traffic control center.
3) The data, which can take several routes to ensure that it goes through, is projected onto a 360-degree panel of screens.
4) This image monitoring is combined with other systems – such as radar display, navigation aids and information about flight plans and weather conditions – which the air traffic controllers use to manage the traffic.
Why This Technology Benefits the Industry – And Air Travelers
1) Allows for greater flexibility
• Remote control technology and digital air traffic control services reduce the need for traditional brick- and-mortar control towers.
• Large airports can more reliably guarantee the promised traffic capacity.
2) Reduces costs
• It's more cost-effecient to erect camera systems than to build new air traffic control towers.
• Airports in sparsely populated areas can save by centralizing air traffic controllers and combining resources.
3) Enhances safety
• Cameras can provide better night vision.
• Advanced image processing can detect dangers or obstacles, such as tools left on the runway.
• Target-tracking technology (i.e., tracking via radar and camera) can automatically detect and highlight incoming aircraft.
• Information overlaid on the screen can display everything from weather and visibility conditions to the identity of aircraft and ground vehicles.
With all of these advantages, the sky is truly the limit for the ATC industry.