London City is the first major airport to control air traffic via a digital tower


Technology is firmly anchored in air transport. Of biometric boarding gates at parallel reality displays that deliver personalized messages, the process of capturing a flight has changed dramatically over the past two decades. Now, a major technological breakthrough has been announced in the operation and management of air transport. London City Airport has greeted himself as the first major international airport in the world to be able to fully control air traffic using a digital tower.

The new system allows staff based 90 miles away in a village in Hampshire – a county in the south-east of England – to guide flights to take-off and landing using a new digital mast ultra modern. The 50-meter tower is equipped with 16 high-definition cameras that provide ground controllers with a 360-degree view of the airfield. The camera array includes two pan-tilt zoom cameras that mimic the binocular functions of a conventional control tower.

The footage is broadcast live via fiber optic networks to staff at the UK’s leading air navigation service provider, known as NATS, in Swanwick, Hampshire. Air traffic controllers view the live video feed on a panoramic screen overlaid with data such as call signs, altitude, weather readings and the speed of aircraft approaching and leaving the airport.

According to London City Airport, all flights in its summer schedule will be flown remotely using the new digital control tower. Management says smart infrastructure can help it meet the expected growth in passenger demand, after a shutdown during the pandemic, as international travel resumes in May. The launch follows previous testing of the system at the Swedish airports of Örnsköldsvik and Sundsvall.

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