London Metropolis is to turn out to be the primary UK airport to switch its air site visitors management tower with a remotely operated digital system.
As an alternative of sitting in a tower overlooking the runway, controllers will likely be 120 miles away, watching stay footage from high-definition cameras.
The brand new system, as a result of be accomplished in 2018, will likely be examined for a yr earlier than changing into totally operational in 2019.
It has already been examined in Australia, Sweden, Norway and Eire.
The know-how has been developed by Saab, the Swedish defence and safety firm, and will likely be launched as a part of a £350m growth programme to improve London Metropolis Airport.
It’ll additionally embody an prolonged terminal constructing, enabling it to serve two million extra passengers a yr by 2025.
The distant digital system will present controllers with a 360-degree view of the airfield by way of 14 high-definition cameras and two cameras that are in a position to pan, tilt and zoom.
The cameras will ship a stay feed by way of fibre cables to a brand new operations room constructed on the Hampshire base of Nats, Britain’s air site visitors management supplier.
In addition to having the ability to see it, controllers will have the ability to hear the airport, as in the event that they have been in situ.
In contrast to the previous tower, the brand new system will enable controllers to zoom in for a greater view and put radar knowledge onto the display screen to trace plane.
BBC transport correspondent Richard Westcott says a important new security function means the cameras will have the ability to select rogue drones close to the airport, in addition to mild the runway at night time.
Responding to questions on security and potential system failure, London Metropolis Airport stated it been independently stress-tested by safety specialists.
The system will use three totally different cables, taking totally different routes between the airport and the management centre, to make sure there’s a again up if a type of cables fails.
Declan Collier, London Metropolis Airport chief govt, stated he was “completely assured” that the system is secure from the specter of a cyber assault.
“No chief govt is complacent about threats from cyber safety,” he stated.
“However we’re very assured that the programs we’re putting in listed here are safe, they’re secure, they’re managed very nicely.”
Steve Anderson, from Nats Air Visitors Management, informed the BBC he has been gained over by the know-how after being initially “sceptical”.
He stated: “They provide the controller extra data by way of what they’ll see, what they’ll hear.”
The airport is planning to decommission its conventional tower in 2019, changing it with a brand new 164ft (50m) digital tower – 104ft (32m) taller than the present one.
The system made its world debut in Sweden at Ornskoldsvik Airport, the place flights have been managed by a distant tower in Sundsvall, 110 miles (177km) away, since 2015.
Nats airports director Mike Stoller stated: “Digital towers are going to rework the best way air site visitors companies are offered at airports by offering actual security, operational and effectivity advantages.
“We do see this as being a rising market place throughout the UK and the world.”
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