The introduction of remote digital control towers is a hugely exciting technological development for our industry.
Anyone at the Farnborough air show last week who was able to divert their eyes from the stunning air displays will have been able to see a demonstration of the kind of digital tower technology that I believe will start to become the norm over the coming years.
High definition cameras, displays enhanced with maps and aircraft data, and infra-red sensors that can cut through fog are a tantalising prospect, and I can certainly see why an airport today might think twice about going to the expense of building a new physical tower.
However, contrary to what’s reported in today’s Daily Telegraph – British airports consider replacing air traffic controllers with remote system – digital towers are not about removing the controller from the mix.
Delivering airport air traffic services remotely from centralised locations could be transformational, after all that’s what we’ve been doing with radar services for decades, and while we are looking at some opportunities in the UK the skill, experience and judgement of the human controller remains very much at the heart of every ATC operation.
Controllers will still safely manage the flight as it moves around the airport, but what could change is how they see the aircraft and the tools they use, but the technology is designed to support the controller, not replace them.
So while we might be seeing the beginning of the end of the tower we’re certainly not seeing the end of the controller.
Please respect our commenting policy and guidelines when posting on this website.