1 Realise that it is mostly about change management
Yes, the technology needs to be of the very highest standard, but it is also absolutely crucial to take care of the people who are affected by the process. The change in mindset is more challenging than the change in technology.
2 Choose a supplier that has other towers in operation
The first time Saab Digital Tower Solutions made a tower operational, in Sundsvall/Örnsköldsvik in Sweden a couple of years ago, it took 32,000 hours of work to gain approval, and the final paperwork makes a pile that is 2.5 metres high. That experience proved extremely valuable for subsequent digital tower deliveries. The amount of work needed to gain approval for the subsequent towers kept shrinking and has been halved twice, first to 16,000 hours, and then to 8000 hours. The time from project initiation to a fully operational tower can now be made very short.
3 Realise that the large-scale gains are key to financial payback
To be efficient, it is important to gather the knowhow in a remote tower centre. That way, you share common resources between airports, which in turn means low total cost for the entire nation. To be future-proof, it is also important to look at future development possibilities and choose a solution that is scalable.
4 Choose a supplier with operational experience.
Choose a supplier that knows how airports work and has hands-on experience in air traffic management. A supplier that knows your business and understands what’s really important for you.
5 Choose technology that supports the service
Do not let yourself be dazzled by functions or innovations that look impressive but do little to serve the actual operation of the tower. Choose technology that really supports air traffic management in the most efficient way possible.